For the seventh time in as many years Singleton Council is set to vote on the future of Wallaby Scrub Road.
The road, built by convicts in the 1830s, links Bulga to Jerrys Plains and it is estimated to be used by at least 1100 vehicles a day.
It may only be a few kilometres in length but the road holds a significant importance to those involved in a lengthy battle which sees local residents determined to protect it from closure pitted against Rio Tinto who needs it shut to enable the expansion of its mine.
At the next Council meeting councillors will vote on the latest request from Rio Tinto to sell the road to them so they can proceed with their approved expansion of Warkworth mine.
Rio Tinto have to gain council approval to proceed otherwise they may need to seek legislative changes to the Road Acts for road to be closed. This would take time and may hit a snag in the state’s Upper House. So its much more preferable for them to see Council close the road.
The company has argued for many years the future of 1300 local jobs and ancillary jobs and local businesses depend on the expansion of this mine.
That may well be the case and no one wants to see people lose their jobs or businesses close.
But and its a very big but is the fact this mining project was never to occur in the first place.
In 2003 the mining company and the state government signed a Deed of Agreement to protect Saddle Ridge in perpetuity from mining.
Yes a legal binding agreement not to mine where they are mining now. As a community we should never treat such agreements with total disregard – does that mean all our deeds are worthless.
In addition to this deed a legal challenge to the mine’s 2012 approval was successful in our state’s highest court. So once again to close the road says ‘shove off’ to our court system.
To the councillors who voted against the road closure in 2016 and were re-elected – in the name of democracy you should vote the same way this time.
Why because many people would have voted for you on your previous voting record.
Finally should a public asset be taken simply for profit – no.