Tamworth Regional Council has considered an approach from the Shenhua Watermark Coal company to enter into an agreement of what is formally called a voluntary planning agreement.
In street talk, it amounts to a donation for funds from the coal company towards community funding; in fact a corporate donation to the city of Tamworth.
Basically the offer is for Shenhua, a major resources coalminer in the Gunnedah Basin, to contribute some $350,000 for what they call “public
purposes” to go towards the proposed regional playground and ancillary
facilities in Bicentennial Park and about one-third of that amount to the second stage of the playground project in Marsupial Park, the community dream for more kid things at Endeavour Park.
The council debated the idea at its last meeting and, aside from some debate about the merits of it, also considered the ramifications of accepting corporate money for community facilities and infrastructure development.
In the end the councillors decided to take the approach on board, but it will go to exhibition, which essentially leaves the final decision up to another vote, given what the community, the public, might have to say about the whole deal.
But that decision was not without some debate about the possibility of where it might take them in terms of future corporate entanglements, such as strings attached or conflicts about the acceptance of the money in the first place.
The agreement, of course, will rest on Shenhua getting planning approval for what it proposes for its mining projects in the Gunnedah Shire and Liverpool Plains.
Both the Liverpool Plains and Gunnedah Shire councils have had
similar approaches. The coal and coal seam gas resource-rich areas in this region are feeling the onslaught of the resources encroachment into our areas, and we daily see the social, economic and financial impacts of those.
While ever the state government doesn’t carve out more in a resources for regions-type program, this is at least something for the impact mining has. The mining giants should be putting up something to use our facilities, our infrastructure, our community, our lifestyle.
The developments might not be here in Tamworth, but they are in our backyard and over our back fence.
Councils should be getting something from the miners. It’s our right, their duty. It’s a start. Take the money. Don’t run from it.