OBJECTORS to the $47 million Macquarie pipeline hope a groundswell of submissions calling for the Department of Planning to refuse the project will sway the planning authority’s final decision.
Feedback to the Environmental Assessment (EA) was due yesterday.
It is understood the department has been flooded with more than 100 submissions from members of the public, community groups and other government departments.
Submissions came from groups opposing the pipeline from all over the region including the Orange and Region Water Security Alliance, Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange (ECCO), Friends of the Macquarie River, Summer Hill Creekcare, Orange Ratepayers Association, Inland Waterways Rejuvenation Association, Orange Field Naturalists, and the Inland Rivers Network.
Many of the groups’ members also wrote individually to the department.
The impact on the environment and ecology of the area and the financial viability of the project are expected to be chief concerns raised in the submissions.
A coordinated effort to print 1000 postcards addressed to Planning Minister Brad Hazzard outlining objections to the pipeline for members of the public to sign was expected to see an additional influx of submissions, which would continue after yesterday’s closing date, the alliance’s Cyril Smith said.
“It’s an important time to keep the politicians informed,” he said.
“The submissions have some very important and pertinent information in them.”
The Alliance’s 70-page submission was coordinated by hydrologist Paul Wettin and detailed all the alternative sources of water that could satisfy Orange’s demand for water, Mr Smith said.
The ratepayers association’s submission focused on the financial viability of the project.
“We’re concerned about the cost of the pipeline and the cost of maintenance for the amount of water it could deliver,” he said.
“Along with many people in Orange we can see that the stormwater harvesting scheme, if it was fully operational and licensed, would have great potential in securing Orange’s water supply.”
Dubbo-based Inland Waterways Rejuvenations Association member Matt Hansen said the pipeline had attracted national attention.
Friends of the Macquarie River member Rick Burns said his submission dealt with the downstream effects of extracting water during the river’s low flows and the impact on endangered fish in the area.
The Hill End based opponent said submissions had come from all over the region and even as far as Queensland.
Both groups commissioned independent studies into the EA’s findings, which Mr Hansen said were critical of the methods used to reach the final conclusion, especially the assessment of the fish numbers in the area.
“People have been working around the clock on the submissions,” he said.
“[The studies] are only a small part of it but they’re very damning for the pipeline project.”