Woodsreef mine road closure - state blamed for loss of access through mine

TAMWORTH Regional Council, after working with members of the Barraba community, has decided to close part of the road that passes through the abandoned Woodsreef asbestos mine and pass responsibility for its reparation back to the state government.

The seven Tamworth Regional councillors present for the discussion (Phil Betts and James Treloar were absent form the meeting and Mark Rodda vacated the chamber because of a non-pecuniary interest)  supported an amended recommendation – worded following a meeting with members of Barraba’s Woodsreef Stakeholders Group and council staff before the meeting – to close the section of road that passes through the abandoned asbestos mine during Tuesday night’s council meeting. 

The adopted recommendation states that community consultation had clearly demonstrated there was a consistent, historical and ongoing public need for access to the area. 

It stated that a decision to close the road – which was proposed in the original recommendation – due to public health risks must address the need for access to the road or provide an alternative. 

Other parts of the recommendation were written to ensure the state government takes up its responsibilities for rehabilitating the old mine site, including if a decision is made to close the road, from their end impacts in relation to cost, inconvenience and higher public risks would be their responsibility.

No members of the public spoke about the closure of the road during the meeting’s public consultation, but indicated they were happy with the outcome of the adopted recommendation. 

During councillor discussions of the recommendation Councillor Juanita Wilson said she was pleased with the outcome of the meeting with the Barraba community and the facts that had been presented. 

Cr Wilson said she believed the reality of the situation was that the state government had built the mine, collected the royalties and had walked away from its responsibilities.

“It’s a big problem, the mine needs rehabilitation and the responsibility of that falls with the state government,” she said. 

In the report prepared to accompany the original recommendation by council’s assistant general manager Peter Thompson, it was revealed Tamworth Regional Council “has not undertaken work on the road for some time due to the risk of asbestos to council workers”. 

Mr Thompson said the next step following the adoption of the recommendation would involve writing to government agencies, including the Department of Trade and Investment and Crown Lands, to action the road closure. 

As part of the recommendation council will also seek to have itself removed as the roads authority for the section of Woodsreef Rd, to the north of the mine, and have it handed back to the Department of Trades and Investment Resources and Energy. 

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