Will the historic Tabulam bridge be saved at the 11th hour?
A CATTLE farmer will find out on Wednesday morning whether his desperate effort to delay or stop the demolition of the historic Tabulam bridge has been successful.
The hearing for an interim injunction on the works was held in the NSW Land and Environment Court on Tuesday afternoon.
The matter had been brought by Tabulam grazier John Cousins against Transport for NSW.
His argument is that the demolition of the bridge ‒ which was expected to start on Wednesday morning ‒ was a breach of section 139 of the Heritage Act.
This states: "A person must not disturb or excavate any land knowing or having reasonable cause to suspect that the disturbance or excavation will or is likely to result in a relic being discovered, exposed, moved, damaged or destroyed unless the disturbance or excavation is carried out in accordance with an excavation permit".
Much of the legal argument centred around whether the old Tabulam bridge could be considered a "relic".
However Mr Cousins told the court he never really believed the bridge would be demolished.
"They (Transport for NSW) have always maintained that (correct process was followed) but I disagree with that completely," he said.
"I'm a cattle farmer… all I heard is that the bridge was going and I felt that I needed to do something.
"I think all Australians should see that bridge… I didn't think it (removal) would ever happen.
"I felt for the Aboriginal people who didn't have a voice.
"I felt that I should step up and help.
"The Aboriginals and the non Aboriginals, including myself, came together to say the same thing.
"Their history was so strong with the bridge."
Transport for NSW's barrister, Richard Lancaster, told the court that Mr Cousins had known for several years that the demolition of the old Tabulam bridge would happen once the new bridge was completed, and questioned why he had left it so late to take action through the courts.
He also lodged submissions about the "significant" costs that Transport for NSW could incur if the demolition works were delayed.
The court heard from Transport for NSW's director of the northern project office, Stuart Webster, who said contractors had advised that delays may cost around $21,000 a day.
"I can conceive of a scenario (if delays are ongoing) when we might have to terminate their contract and complete the work later on," he said.
"We wouldn't be able to sit and wait.
"It's not just my decision … there are other divisions I need to consult ... we would have to do all our calculations."
Justice Moore told the court he would make a decision on the interim injunction at 8.30am.
Mr Lancaster gave an undertaking that no work would take place before the decision.