Singleton Council is expecting to make an application to close Wallaby Scrub Road by next month.
General Manager Jason Linnane said “Council has commenced and is nearing finalisation of the required survey process. It is expected that the road closure application will be ready for submission to the Minister early December 2017.”
The seven kilometre road, built by convict labour in the 1830s, links the villages of Bulga and Warkworth and has been at the centre of a long runing dispute between opponents of the expansion of Warkworth mine and the mine’s owners who have said the road must closed to unsure the expansion can take place.
For years those opposed to the mine expansion have argued the road should not be closed and simply given to a mining company.
Earlier this year Singleton Council, the owners of the road, voted to start the process to close the thoroughfare much to the chagrin of the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association and its supporters who fought against such a move.
The other contentious issue arising from the approval of the Warkworth mine expansion was the signing of the Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA).
While Councillors voted to close Wallaby Scrub Road they rejected a clause in the VPA which stated the road must be closed otherwise the owners of the mine would be unable to progress the development and fund the agreement.
Rio Tinto sold Warkworth to Yancoal in September and Council’s Mark Ihlein, Director Infrastructure and Planning said “Council has been working closely with Yancoal on the Mt Thorley Warkworth VPA and finalisation is imminent.”
Bulga Milbroadale Progress Association president John Krey says delays in the signing of the Warkworth VPA was disadvantaging local communities.
He was also critical of delays in the progression of the neighbouring Bulga Coal Optimistaion Project VPA as both the agreements were intended to be beneficial for Broke, Bulga and Milbrodale communities.
So disappointed with the lack of Council interest in the views of the affected communities and the secrecy with which negotiations are being conducted between Council and the new owners of Warkworth over the VPA Mr Krey has resigned from the Bulga Coal VPA Committee.