MEMBER for Tamworth Kevin Anderson has asked Tamworth Regional Council to defer any move to close a road next to the abandoned Woodsreef asbestos mine and allow it to be used as a public road for locals until air monitoring and health risk tests were completed in December this year.
His submission to this week’s council meeting was thrown aside in a debate where the council finally decided it was too risky, it posed health risks, and the council would close the road and pass responsibility for it – and any later decision about its use by the public – back to the state government.
Yesterday, the Nationals MP said he stood by his earlier pleas for a delay to the closure on the back of what community members had told him and asked for.
Mr Anderson said the deferral would still have been his preferred outcome to allow an air monitoring process and subsequent report to be completed.
He said evidence-based research and the results received from the air quality monitoring, due to begin in April, were expected to be completed in December.
“At this point there is really no concrete evidence to suggest the road has to close,” Mr Anderson said.
“I sought for council to defer the decision until after the report is released in December so the results from that report can be used as a guide and so there is evidence which says there either is or isn’t an increased risk to health and if there is a risk, what is it.”
Mr Anderson said he agreed the issue of the mine had been “toyed around with for too long”.
“We have to get it right this time,” he said.
“The issue of another access road was brought up years ago and residents are still saying they need access.”
Mr Anderson said he believed there would be more clear-cut information when the air monitoring report had been finished.
“There is still all of this conflicting information out there and we need to listen to the community and work with what evidence there is available. At this point the residents want the road and the ombudsman’s report has said it’s not safe.”
He said he planned to talk to Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner about the next possible courses of action.