TAMWORTH'S councillors resolved last night to approach the state government and gauge its interest in plans for a $300 million development comprising a jail, renewable energy hub and commercial glasshouse operation.
The decision to push ahead with the controversial concept came despite a raft of speakers from the Association of Tamworth Ratepayers (ATR) imploring their elected representatives to scrap the prison from the proposal.
The council has long-held plans to develop a biogas plant in the city to power its assets and reduce the $3.5 million paid each year in electricity bills, however, the initial concept devised was deemed not commercial viable.
It was then that work began on seeing what other developments could be powered by the biogas plant and, knowing there were questions over how long the state government would persist with the ageing Tamworth Correctional Centre, factored a new jail into the concept.
ATR spokesman Geoffrey Green was one of nine people to address the council on the issue, outlining a litany of concerns, including claiming that a new jail would cause property prices to crash and crime rates to soar.
"Tonight, councillors, I fail to understand how any of you could vote for the motion to advance any thought of attracting a jail to (the) Tamworth region," he said.
"The social impact in the long-term far outweighs any financial gain that might be envisaged."