Making sure there are no detrimental affects to Dunedoo and surrounding villages is one of the key priorities for Warrumbungle Shire Council in dealing with their first coal mine.
Speaking to the Mudgee Guardian at Dunedoo’s Jubilee Hall on Wednesday, Warrumbungle Shire Council general manager Steve Loane said residents wanted as much information as possible on the Cobbora Coal Project.
“A night like tonight is fantastic and has been a long time coming. When we have had lots of other public meetings, especially in the Dunedoo town, people expect us to know stuff and we just didn’t know,” he said.
“[Cobbora] is now coming forward and giving people this information.
“Because this will be considered as a significant development by the State Government, council doesn’t have a role as far as the approval process is concerned but of course we are there to safeguard the community as best we can.
“The main issue landholders have is clean water and clean air, making sure they don’t have the same issues people in the Upper Hunter have had.
“This is a very vibrant rural area and the rural commodities out of this area are extremely important to our shire and district, so we must make sure their viability is maintained.”
Mr Loane said there was no doubt economic opportunities will be more readily available and Dunedoo is expected to grow.
“We are trying to position Dunedoo to take advantage of whatever might happen,” he said.
“Even if a coal mine doesn’t happen we need to provide rural residential and industrial land so it can grow. The fact it is on the Golden Highway is a tremendous opportunity and we are far away enough from Dubbo to have our own impact.”
The general manager said council had been offered “tremendous” help from the Association of Mining Related Councils who have had years of experience dealing with miners.
“They’ve been able to give us advice on forming a mining rate, which we don’t currently have but are looking to install it into the next budget,” Mr Loane said.
“The provisions of voluntary planning agreements and what to ask of miners in partnership with the community and council have also been discussed.”
Warrumbungle Shire Council Director of Environment and Community Services, Tony Meppem, said council had to make sure the community could handle the extra infrastructure and doesn’t get swamped.
“We will be looking to mining companies to help out with the extra demand they are going to create,” he said.
“The outer lying towns that don’t have sewerage may find it difficult. Towns like Dunedoo and Coolah can cope but there is going to need to be augmentation of the local sewerage plant and water supply.
“No one is sure how many people are going to come but we’d have to design for an over-optimistic number so you are not going back and fixing it in three years time.”