No Dams – it is now time for a transparent process to sell the Tillegra lands
NTDG welcomes the government’s decision to scrap dams from the new Lower Hunter Water Plan and looks forward to a portfolio of cost effective options. A new dam was never needed and would have been a burden on ratepayers. The new portfolio of options are economically, socially and environmentally friendly. Now that all dams are officially off the table we challenge the NSW Government and Hunter Water to implement an independent, transparent process to sell all land in the Tillegra precinct.
NTDG has been requesting, for over 2 years, 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. Any land use plan must highlight land use and land management issues relating to future planning for the Williams River and its catchment. It should also provide proposals and emphasise the importance of strategic planning for the disposal of all Hunter Water owned lands within the Williams River Valley.
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. The Dungog community now needs assurance that they can confidently move on and be able to plan for a secure future. This will not be achieved until the state Government ensures that all land held by Hunter Water in the Tillegra precinct is sold in a timely manner and through a proper, independent process. Dungog Shire Council resolved at a June 2011 Council meeting that all land in the Tillegra precinct should be sold through a ‘Whole of Government’ strategy. The expectation from Council is that this motion will be activated, with support from the present Government.
For more information contact: Carol Pasenow, NTDG, on 0427 607 491