Hunter Water should not be in charge of Tillegra land sales
“Hunter Water should not be allowed to be in charge of any land use strategy for the Tillegra precinct”, Carol Pasenow, No Tillegra Dam Group (NTDG) Chair said today.
“Our group finds it outrageous that the NSW Government has allowed Hunter Water to get back into the driving seat and control when and how the land will be sold.
Since November 2010 when the Tillegra Dam proposal was rejected, NTDG has been working hard with our local member, Minister George Souris, Government Ministers, and Dungog Shire Councillors to implement a transparent process for the sale of all land in the Tillegra precinct, which amounts to approximately 8,000 hectares.
We were under the impression that Minister Hazzard and his department had taken control of coordinating this process, but obviously the maverick corporation is once again dancing to its own tune.
Suddenly Hunter Water is calling for tenders for a land use strategy without prior consultation with the various stakeholders, including Dungog Shire Council, environmental and community groups.
Consultation after the fact is not well received by the Hunter public. Ask Mr Kevin Young, the previous Hunter Water Managing Director.
NTDG has been requesting for the last 17 months that a ‘Whole of Government’ reference group be set up to guide any land use plan and land sales in the Tillegra precinct.
This special reference group with relevant stakeholder representation must now be implemented to guide land sales so that the Hunter community has confidence in the process. This must be co-ordinated by Minister Hazzard’s office to ensure transparency and independence.
The reference group should include representation from relevant government agencies, as well as the NSW Office of Water, Dungog Shire Council, HWC, Hunter-Central Rivers CMA, National Parks Association of NSW; representation from environmental and community groups, as well as power to co-opt other agencies as required.
It would also be responsible for coordination of the land use plan which would review the values of the Tillegra acquired lands to determine future land use options in line with the areas economic, social and environmental values. Hunter Water would be one seat at this table.
Land sale timelines under this process would not be decided by Hunter Water. If it was left to the corporation, we would be waiting for the market to pick up, if at all. Hunter Water has a history of hanging onto land.
Hunter Water was directed to commence the ‘buy back’ process 17 months ago with the 11 landowners who had this clause in their land sales. This process would normally take 6-8 weeks. These landowners are still waiting for this process to run its course.
Hunter Water never considered land values when it pressured Williams River Valley landowners into selling their land for the Tillegra Dam proposal. They must not now be placed in charge of when and how the land will be sold.
It is important that Minister Hazzard now intervene, halt Hunter Water’s power to run the land sales process in the Tillegra precinct and set up a round table discussion with key stakeholders to work out a way forward.”
For more information, ring Carol Pasenow on 0427 607 491