Tablelands eyes potential funds

NORTHERN WISHLIST: Guyra mayor Hans Hietbrink, left, MP Adam Marshall and Guyra council GM Peter Stewart at yesterday’s councils meeting.

NORTHERN WISHLIST: Guyra mayor Hans Hietbrink, left, MP Adam Marshall and Guyra council GM Peter Stewart at yesterday’s councils meeting.

A MEETING yesterday of tablelands local government groups and their state MP has decided a priority list of major infrastructure projects to submit for a share of the potential $6 billion Regional Infrastructure Fund.

The meeting of mayors, general managers and Adam Marshall has come up with six projects they see as most important of the eight tablelands councils. As well, Moree Plains council, which will become part of the state electorate under a boundary re-distribution next year, and the New England county council body, were involved in the determinations.

Nationals MP Adam Marshall said he convened the meeting to take the opportunity for funding for country NSW out of the possible 49 per cent per cent long-term lease of the largely metropolitan poles and wires networks if the Coalition government is re-elected next year.

Mr Marshall said the Essential Energy network would remain in 100 per cent public ownership and would be enshrined in legislation, but a rural and regional fund will be created using 30 per cent of the proceeds from the asset transaction.

It is estimated that the fund will be at least $6 billion.

Mr Marshall said the meeting was to put regional councils on the front foot and ahead of the pack – and a better chance of securing a large slice of the funding pie.

“All projects will have to be properly costed, business cases developed and then finally assessed by Infrastructure NSW,” Mr Marshall said.

“To be eligible, infrastructure projects must be on a scale and importance so as to benefit a whole region, not just one or two communities and provide an economic return – I’m delighted to say that the Northern Tablelands priority projects meet this test and have the back of every council across the region. While there will be a lot of competition for these potential funds, I believe today has helped put us in a very strong position.”

What the list includes

* Construction of Apsley Dam (Walcha)

* Expansion of Armidale Regional Airport’s runway and terminal

* Upgrade of Thunderbolts Way (Inverell, Uralla and Walcha shires)

* Enhancement of Bellevue Oval to national multi-sport standard (Armidale, UNE)

* Upgrade/redevelopment of Armidale, Inverell and Glen Innes hospitals

* Major freight corridor upgrades along Gwydir Highway through Moree, Warialda, Inverell and Glen Innes shires, North Star bridges and Mt Lindsay Road (Tenterfield).

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