Good morning councillors and members of the public. Thank you for this opportunity to speak. This issue has had considerable attention so I will keep it short, despite disappointment in the length of time it has taken to resolve an issue that is clearly covered by authority and delegations arising under the Roads Act 1993.
Access to Bowns Creek via Coopers Island Road has been a bone of contention since at least
June 2018. Coopers Island Road provides access to Bowns Creek and to private farming land and has been a public road since the 1930s. The road provides access for locals and tourists to undertake water-based recreational activities in the Bown Creek, Trunketabella Lake and the Tuross River.
The current owners of the farmland adjacent to Coopers Island Road have placed a gate at the head of the road where it meets the Princes Highway and have expressed interest in buying the public road.
On 15 June 2021, the Council decided not to close or sell Coopers Island Road and allocated some funding to realign the public road and to erect signage.
The Council publicised that a decision on the landholder’s application for a gate permit would be made by Tuesday 22 June 2021, and until that time the gate could stay.
As you are all aware, it is now October 2021 and the future of the gate on Coopers Island Road remains undecided/unclear.
There are two options before the Council today. The options boil down to remove the gate or maintain the gate. Both options require the landholder to fence in a manner that excludes their livestock from the public road. It appears that maintaining the gate is nothing more than a face saving exercise for the landholder, and maybe the Council, and a slap in the face for the public who utilise Bowns Creek.
Gates across public roads are exceptions not the rule. The landholders have not demonstrated that their circumstances are any different to any other landholder who has a public road running through their property. My own family has public roads running through its property and we are responsible for keeping our livestock off the roads.
There has been plenty of time since June for the fences along the road, to exclude cattle, to be reinstated. Eurobodalla Labor maintains its support for the removal of the gate on Coopers