On the Stewardship Maintenance Contract (SMC), which Ventia runs along with Boral and Amey (VBA), the diversity of environments in which we operate is significant. 

Environmental Manager, Saorla Finucane, says one day she might be assisting with works adjacent to a national park and the next she's working in the middle of Sydney's historic district of The Rocks. 

Environmental Manager, Saorla Finucane

Pictured: Environmental Manager, Saorla Finucane

The SMC region, which we maintain on behalf of the NSW Government, starts at the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the north, runs west to Paramatta and south to the Royal National Park. 

Saorla and her team of four environmental advisors - Alex Ross, Grace Corrigan, Brendan Pitt & Shannon Khalifeh - work alongside project engineers and maintenance teams to assess sites from an environmental perspective, looking out for potential issues that might arise. Prior to works being undertaken, they ensure environmental assessments are conducted and all necessary environmental approvals are obtained. 

Their assessments ensure that environmental impacts are mitigated as much as possible.

"A main component of our job is to prevent environmental incidents from occurring, and I am pleased to say the VBA team have done a great job of that on this contract," Saorla says. 

Working in a heritage-rich environment 

Along with the environmental aspects, Saorla and her team work with heritage issues that arise on sites. 

One of the challenges the team face when working on roads in older parts of Sydney is ensuring they preserve the historical integrity of areas where upgrades and maintenance are needed. 

The VBA SMC asset portfolio includes over 200 bridges, around 20 of which are heritage listed, including the ANZAC bridge and Tom Ugly's Bridge in Blakehurst.  

Tom Ugly

"Preparation for works on our heritage bridges usually includes a Statement of Heritage Impact by a specialist, which assesses the heritage significance of the bridge as well as the potential impacts which may occur as a result of the works," Saorla explains. "The SOHI will recommend whether the proposed works are acceptable and will provide guidance on ways to minimize impacts and retain the heritage significance of the bridge." 

VBA recently installed Impressed Current Cathodic Protection (ICCP) on Tom Ugly's Bridge, which is a corrosion prevention system, to prevent deterioration of the concrete piers and extend the life of the bridge.

Tom Ugly's Bridge consists of two separate bridges that span the Georges River around 22km south of Sydney's CBD. The north bound bridge - constructed in 1929 - is listed as an item of state heritage significance on TfNSW's register and local heritage significance on Sutherland Shire's Local Environmental Plan. 

Some of the considerations given to the work on the bridge included minimising any negative visual impacts through careful consideration at the detailed design stage, careful selection of materials and the sparing use of concrete when completing the patch repairs as well as ensuring concrete and decorative coatings were colour matched.

Saorla says she believes people are generally more aware of the importance of respecting our environment and heritage sites and are keen to innovate when it comes to initiatives we can put in place to improve outcomes. 

"There have been a lot of great educational campaigns over the years that have helped raise awareness of the impacts of our day-to-day activities. We like to regularly participate in environmental campaigns like Earth Hour and Clean Up Australia Day as well as participating in an annual corporate tree planting challenge," Saorla says. 

People want to know they're leaving behind a nice world for their kids and grandkids to live in, and that's helping drive their support for, and participation in, sustainable practices.

For more information about what we do as part of the Stewardship Maintenance Contract, click here.