The future of Wallaby Scrub Road is yet to be determined, as an amended Aboriginal land claim has now been submitted to cover the ‘corridor’ through which the road passes.
In April the Wanaruah Local Aboriginal Land Council submitted a claim for the road following a decision by Singleton Council to commence the process to close Wallaby Scrub Road.
The road built by convicts in the 1830s links Bulga to Warkworth and has been at the centre of a long running battle between local residents and their supporters who want the road to remain open and the owners of Warkworth mine Rio Tinto and their supporters who want to mine through the road.
Rio Tinto are expected to finalise the sale of their two remaining Hunter coal assets Mount Thorley Warkworth (MTW) and Hunter Valley Operations to Yancoal Australia on September 1.
And no doubt the new owners will be hoping the Wallaby Scrub Road issue is solved sooner rather than later to allow for the continued expansion of MTW.
Wanaruah Local Aboriginal Land Council, chief executive officer, Noel Downs said their initial claim for Wallaby Scrub Road registered in April was dealt with by June 19 – a six week turn around.
“Most land claims take between two and ten years to be processed but our claim was dealt with in a very short time period in comparison,” he said.
“That claim was rejected because the road is owned by Singleton Council it is not Crown land.”
Mr Downs submitted an amended land claim on June 21 for the corridor which the road passes through which means 500mm either side of the tar and running down to Wollombi Brook.
That claim is yet to be processed and until a final decision is made on the land claim Singleton Council maybe unable to make a final decision on the road’s closure.
Interestingly Council voted in June at an extraordinary meeting to approve the MTW Voluntary Planning Agreement with the exclusion of the controversial clause that linked payments to the closure of Wallaby Scrub Road.
NSW Department of Planning and Environment have granted the Council an extension of time until December 31 for the finalisation of the Mt Thorley-Warkworth VPA.