JUST two of the current Orange City councillors seeking reelection on Saturday have visited the site of the $47 million Macquarie Pipeline, despite the project being on the agenda for almost three years of their four-year council term.
Landholder and pipeline opponent Colin Young said he and other landholders were very disappointed that only councillors Neil Jones and Reg Kidd had taken the interest to investigate the area for themselves.
“Council are quite happy to see a heritage house that is in jeopardy of being changed or altered but not prepared to go outside and inspect a $47million project,” he said.
Mr Young said director of technical services Chris Devitt had told him he had not visited the site of the offtake pump where water will be taken from the river.
“I think it’s an issue of probity that all the people involved in the pipeline should’ve taken the time to acquaint themselves with the actual terrain,” he said.
“Everybody who I’ve taken out there is at least impressed and say there are huge problems.”
But council spokesman Nick Redmond said council staff and consultants had been along every section of the proposed route, including the offtake point.
“Council employs professional staff and expert consultants to provide advice to management and councillors,” he said.
“This project will not rise or fall on who has or who has not seen the route, but whether a proper assessment has been undertaken and it is demonstrated that impacts can be minimised.
“It should be noted that while Mr Young has requested that certain individuals inspect his land, council staff and consultants have faced significant challenges when seeking to enter Mr Young’s land for the assessment process.”
While Mr Young admitted he had resisted attempts for consultants to enter his property he said he would “bend over backwards” to get candidates and councillors to visit the property.
He rejected the council’s “standard reply” that experts had visited the area, saying it was important the councillors also saw it for themselves.
He invited a group out to his property last weekend and this week but only three candidates: Russell Turner, Cyril Smith and Brian Wood accepted the offer.
He admitted he could have done a better job promoting the site visit, as he had not asked all the current candidates personally to visit the property.
“But regardless, they should have exercised due diligence,” he said.
Mr Young said he asked mayor John Davis to visit the site numerous times and had also written a letter last week inviting the mayor to inspect the location.
He said he would welcome a visit from the new councillors following the election.