Heritage road set for closure following Singleton Council vote

An extraordinary meeting of Singleton Council has been held tonight where councillors formally consented to the closure of Wallaby Scrub Road.

The heritage road built by convicts in the 1830s, links the villages of Bulga and Warkworth, and is used by an estimated 1000 vehicles each day.

But it stands in the way of the expansion of the Yancoal owned Mount Thorley Warkworth open cut coal mine and is therefore deemed an expendable asset by the majority of Singleton Councillors.

Only Councillors Val Scott and Tony McNamara voted against the closure of the road.

For those opposed to its closure the fight to keep the road open has been long and at times fraught with controversy especially following with the arrest of two Aboriginal elders at a protest to protect the road in July 2016.

Tonight’s vote will no doubt disappoint many including members of the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association and Friends of Wallaby Scrub Road.

The Department of Industries – Lands & Forestry has given approval in principle for the road closure, following a resolution of Council on August 28, 2017 to make the application affecting 5.99km of Wallaby Scrub Road from the intersection of Putty Road.

The approval is conditional that assets owned by Ausgrid within the area of the road are removed prior to closure, and that the land in the former road corridor is sold to the adjoining landholders.

The process to close the road followed State Government approval for the expansion of the Warkworth mine. The adjoining landholders are Warkworth Mining Limited and Miller Pohang Coal Company Pty Ltd.

Anthony Egan, Council’s Director Corporate & Community, said the extraordinary meeting was called to ensure the next stage of the process could be completed and allow time for the NSW Land Registry Services to register the survey plans and issue property plans to allow the sale to proceed.

“In order to progress with the closure and sale of the road corridor, Council was required to consent to the closure of Wallaby Scrub Road under section 37 of the Roads Act 1993 (as in force at the time the application to close the road was submitted). The Act states a council-owned road may not be closed unless the council consents to the closure of the road,” he said.

“A recommendation put to tonight’s extraordinary meeting was to consent to the closure in keeping with Council’s previous resolution to apply to close Wallaby Scrub Road.

“However, the sale of the land would need to be negotiated prior to the road being closed.”

Mr Egan said negotiations were ongoing between Council and the mining company.

“Any proceeds from the sale of the road corridor must be invested in the road network in the Singleton LGA in accordance with Section 43(4) of the Roads Act, 1993,” he said.

Locals gathered in July 2016 to protest

Locals gathered in July 2016 to protest