A BID by Macquarie pipeline opponents to appeal the project’s approval has hit a snag.
The Orange Region Water Security Alliance’s Paul Wettin asked federal government representatives for their reasons for approving the $47 million project, in late August, under the freedom of information act so the alliance could decide if an appeal was possible.
He was told on Thursday the documents would cost $266.75 and take the department of environment an extra 30 days to source because they need to consult a third party.
“The extension of 30 days is a stalling, or hope you’ll go away with costs, tactic in my view,” he said.
“Why can’t they make the reasons for their approvals available?
“Surely the delegate who made the decision received a report or a briefing so it should be readily available.”
Mr Wettin believes the third party the department needs to consult is Orange City Council and the council is deliberately holding up the process.
But council spokesman Allan Reeder said the release of the documents is completely up to the federal authorities and council had no say in the matter.
Mr Wettin also criticised the appointment of Geolyse environmental services manager Andrew Brownlow as the pipeline’s independent overseer because of his firm’s previous work producing the long-term hydrology modelling for the project.
“It’s a bad sign and sends a bad message about how the other conditions of approval will be met,” he said.
But Mr Reeder said Mr Brownlow’s appointment had been approved by the director-general of planning as required by the conditions of approval.
He said after four years of “intense public scrutiny” the end result has been a better project with a good outcome for the community and the river environment.
“But at some point it must be fair to draw a line in the sand for the harping to stop,” he said.
“It’s now been approved and the council is getting on with building it.”