Gunnedah, Liverpool Plains mayors hit back at program

THE mayors of Gunnedah and the Liverpool Plains have criticised the latest mining resources infrastructure program because they’ve missed out on any chance of funding from it – and will be pressing their two local Nationals MPs to get them included in future.

While the two shires missed out on this year’s Resources for Regions program listing, adjoining Narrabri was included this time around.

Liverpool Plains mayor Ian Lobsey said he was disappointed to have missed out again and that he would be taking their case to minister George Souris, their state Nationals member, as well as member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson.

“The government promised to inject up to $160 million during their first term into infrastructure projects in communities affected by mining,” Cr Lobsey said.

“Despite the impacts on our communities of mining, it looks like we won’t see one red cent of investment.”

Cr Lobsey said it appeared no funding was set aside for the Resources for Regions package over budget forward estimates and, if that was the case, he knew people would feel let down by Deputy Premier and Regional Infrastructure and Services Minister Andrew Stoner and his team.

He said residents were concerned about lengthy delays at level crossings, as well as local air quality and the environment.

“There are many occasions when the main Quirindi-Werris Creek-Tamworth road is blocked for up to eight minutes; likewise in Quirindi at the two level crossings,” Cr Lobsey said.

“Of particular concern is the Henry St crossing, where the bank-up of traffic has seen emergency service vehicles boxed in, unable to turn or move until the crossing reopens. Such delays could mean the difference between life and death with ambulances, or the ability of fire services to get a blaze under control.

“Unfortunately it can also cause road rage; we’ve seen examples of motorbikes actually zig-zagging through the closed barriers.”

Gunnedah Shire mayor Owen Hasler said it was “incomprehensible” that the shire didn’t meet the criteria to be eligible to apply for funding, but would be pushing its case with Mr Anderson, to get him to approach Mr Stoner.

“We have significant mining already, and two EISes (environmental impact studies) from Shenhua, another expected from Whitehaven and three outside our border, so to suggest we don’t have significant mining impact already, I find it disquieting,” Cr Hasler said.

“It’s great that Narrabri has been included this time, but we would have thought that Gunnedah, being the gateway to new mines, would have been included. We believe they haven’t apparently taken into account the likely increased mining and the impact of the mines.”

Cr Hasler said Gunnedah had hundreds of truck movements each day, transporting material to trains and through the town.

He said the town also had many mine workers and contractors living there which impacted on the area, with 85 new homes built last year and another 53 in the first six months of this year, which required extra infrastructure to cope with the influx of people.

“We are coping with it because of planning from council in the preceding years. We’ve had to have a special rate variation to ensure we are in a position to rectify our infrastructure needs, but that doesn’t seem to have been recognised in this case,” he said.

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