A DECISION to direct the final four kilometres of the proposed Macquarie pipeline route through steep and rocky terrain is “environmental vandalism at its very worst”, according to Orange councillor Neil Jones.
Cr Jones has joined forces with landholder Colin Young to call on council to scrap plans to build the access road and pipeline to Gardiners Hole and instead redirect the water pump to Long Point where an existing Crown road crosses the river.
Both would prefer council to abandon the $47 million pipeline project in favour of a regional solution, but concede it is unlikely to happen.
“Until you have a firsthand look at the country, both the grazing land and native bushland, it is impossible to properly assess the impact that the clearing and earthworks will have, not only on the environment but the farming practices of landholders”, Cr Jones said.
“I honestly can’t believe how any person, whether they be consultants, engineers, scientists, or councillors, having seen this section of the proposed pipeline route, could possibly agree to the construction of an access road and the burying of the pipeline in this type of country.”
Council spokesman Nick Redmond rejected the environmental vandalism tag saying there would be no net loss of vegetation.
“If it was we wouldn’t get consent for it,” he said.
“There will be a formula with the EA [Environmental Assessment] that if you remove mature trees you’ll have to replace them with X number of trees.”
Mr Young is the second landholder back from the river.
More than three kilometres of the 37 kilometre pipeline will run through his property.
“If it goes to Long Point it’s win-win,” he said.
“It’s two kilometres longer but there are virtually no trees to be knocked down and the maintenance and service of it has to be simpler.”
But Mr Redmond said council decided on the pipeline route in consultation with the landowner.
“We were following suggestions from Mr Young,” he said.
Mr Young said he was outraged by Mr Redmond’s comments.
Mr Redmond said where possible council would align the pipeline with the access road and existing roads.
“We’re talking about a one-lane gravel road of minimal impact, not a large roadway,” he said.
“Ultimately there will only be vehicles on it once a fortnight; it’s not a public road.”