Opinions divided on Appleby Ln culvert’s flood impact

TAMWORTH'S Appleby Ln will be repaired in the near future but emotions surrounding the repair are mixed.

A report presented to last Tuesday night's Tamworth Regional Council meeting suggested the opinions of residents in the area were divided when it came to the impact the culvert had on their properties during a flood.

During a number of public consultations since the issue of repairing the bridge was first raised in May, it was revealed neighbours who lived east of the culvert said its presence impacted on flood levels and caused damage to their properties.

Those who live west of the divide and downstream have told council consultants flood levels have not changed and suggested lowering the culvert would extend the amount of time their properties were cut off from Manilla Rd during floods.

The report presented to the council suggested, despite the opportunity to consult with the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) on an individual basis, it appeared "the differing views of the local residents are irreconcilable".

Despite the differences, councillors last Tuesday night approved $240,000 of works to the culvert, including the reconstruction of the road over the culvert, lowering the structure by 350mm, the construction of a concrete causeway and the installation of armouring on the downstream batter.

The culvert runs next to the Peel River.

In a past life it was a low-level causeway, but was damaged by floodwaters and later upgraded.

At the council meeting on May 22 the issue of the culvert came up, after funding was allocated toward the works.

During that meeting it was also resolved to further investigate the situation on-site, after a number of representations from residents were made.

During the community consultation section of the May meeting, Ross Davidson and Barry Parton spoke in favour of lowering the road.

They shared the view the culvert caused floodwaters to back up and push west causing inundation and erosion to properties which didn't happen before the culvert was installed.

They suggested having the culvert removed and were in favour of having the old causeway rebuilt.

Since that meeting, council staff have surveyed the area, including the road, riverbanks and the low-lying upstream farmland.

The survey was reviewed by council engineers and senior staff, as well as the OEH.

The OEH advised the council, following the report, that until the culvert was full it would have no influence over upstream river levels.

It said, once the culvert surcharged and the water was over the road and flowing significantly, it would have no influence on river levels upstream.

In its reply, the OEH told the council that reducing the road level above the culvert by 350mm to 500mm would significantly reduce any chance of the structure having an impact on properties to the east or upstream.

The department suggested that, in the absence of a more comprehensive flood study, the survey data indicated the road level may be having a minor impact on neighbouring properties during some flood events.

"The lowering of the road on the western side of the bridge will reduce any existing backwater impacts on upstream properties," the report said.

"The proposed lowering of the road level will ensure that any existing impacts are mitigated, and may prevent any future claim for damages from neighbouring property owners."

The works on Appleby Ln will be funded using $200,000 from the Mining and Extractive Section 94 funds, to supplement existing natural disaster funding.

Tamworth's Appleby Ln will be repaired in the near future but emotions surrounding the repair are mixed.

Tamworth's Appleby Ln will be repaired in the near future but emotions surrounding the repair are mixed.


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