OUTSPOKEN Macquarie Pipeline critic and Orange councillor Neil Jones appears to have an ally in the fight against the $47 million water security solution, with Cr Reg Kidd voting with the Greens councillor in an attempt to stop the council calling for tenders.
Cr Jones and Cr Kidd were the only two councillors to vote against the next step of the project at Tuesday’s extraordinary council meeting.
But Cr Kidd did not rule out backing the project if crucial questions he had about the pipeline were answered by the council’s contractors.
“I question the process, the need for Godspeed now right on Christmas time and whether we are being transparent,” he told the meeting.
“I can’t support it at the moment, I think it’s a rushed job.”
Cr Kidd said the council’s decision to change the last section of the pipeline route and extraction point following public pressure made him question whether the experts’ opinions were still wrong.
“I believe we have the responsibility to ratepayers for due diligence on this and give people everything out there on the table,” he said.
“It’s getting more and more difficult for me to know what is factual and what is not.”
Cr Kidd said he had been criticised for repeatedly questioning why the water supplied to Cadia was not considered as part of the supply, the secure yield from Suma Park Dam and stormwater harvesting, the high cost of alternatives such as rainwater tanks, and the decision to backflip over the raising of the Suma Park Dam wall.
He said his questions remained unanswered.
But council spokesman Nick Redmond said all the questions had been answered in the pipeline’s environment assessment (EA), with the information also provided to all councillors.
Cr Jones repeated his concerns about the environmental impact of the pipeline and said he was disappointed councillors and the public would not be able to view the Preferred Project Report (PPR) detailing the new route for the pipeline and the council’s response to public submissions before it was forwarded to the department of planning.