Shenhua review: councils in line for $19 million

MORE than $19 million will flow to three local councils after Shenhua completed its preparations ahead of the Planning Assessment Commission’s review of its Watermark coal project on the Liverpool Plains.

In-principle Voluntary Planning Agreements (VPA) were signed with Tamworth Regional Council, Gunnedah Shire and Liverpool Plains Shire councils this week for the upgrade of community facilities and additional infrastructure needed to service the population increase resulting from the Watermark project.

Gunnedah shire is the biggest beneficiary, its agreement worth about $18 million over the expected 30-year life of the project, if it receives approval.

This includes a $6 million lump sum for the construction of a community facility, up to $500,000 for the planning of the facility, and $0.06c per tonne of coal produced during the period of the approval.

Liverpool Plains shire has received $1.2 million for the construction of a regional indoor sports centre in Quirindi and Tamworth Regional Council will put $350,000 towards two playground projects. 

Under the terms of the VPA, which will be binding if the project is approved, Shenhua will provide a lump sum of $350,000 to Tamworth council, with $250,000 to go towards the construction of a regional playground at Bicentennial Park and $100,000 to fund the installation of rubber playground surfacing at the adventure playground at Marsupial Park.

Shenhua Watermark Project manager Paul Jackson said the VPAs were an indication of the company’s commitment to positive economic and social outcomes for local communities as a result of the mine proposal.

ON THE DOTTED LINE: Pictured at the signing of the in-principle agreements are, from left, Shenhua Watermark chief executive officer Wang Ningbo, Liverpool Plains mayor Ian Lobsey, Gunnedah shire mayor Owen Hasler, Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray and Shenhua chairman Liu Xiang. 
Photo: Namoi Valley Independent

ON THE DOTTED LINE: Pictured at the signing of the in-principle agreements are, from left, Shenhua Watermark chief executive officer Wang Ningbo, Liverpool Plains mayor Ian Lobsey, Gunnedah shire mayor Owen Hasler, Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray and Shenhua chairman Liu Xiang. Photo: Namoi Valley Independent

Gunnedah shire mayor Cr Owen Hasler praised the negotiation process.

“... both parties were seeking a result which would support the project, should it gain planning approval, while providing appropriate compensation for the projected impacts caused to our local government area,” he said. 

Liverpool Plains has big plans for its funding, with the new indoor sports facility to cater for basketball, netball, indoor cricket and soccer.

“It will now mean that our local sports persons will not have to travel to other venues every week and it will conversely attract other teams to come to Quirindi to compete and thus add to the local economy,” mayor Ian Lobsey said. 

The Planning Assessment Commission review of the Watermark project is set down for June 26.

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