Bid to block pipeline project fails

IN FAVOUR: Jeff Hort Engineering general manager Jeff Hort has spoken out in favour of the Macquarie pipeline. Photo: JUDE KEOGH  1021hort1
IN FAVOUR: Jeff Hort Engineering general manager Jeff Hort has spoken out in favour of the Macquarie pipeline. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 1021hort1

A MOTION to axe the Macquarie pipeline has been defeated, but councillors against the project say they will lobby for greater investigation of alternative water schemes.

The proposal, led by deputy mayor Jeff Whitton, was defeated four votes to seven in front of a packed public gallery at Orange City Council’s meeting on Thursday night.

After two hours of debate, which included seven speeches by residents, councillors John Davis, Chris Gryllis, Fiona Rossiter, Jason Hamling, Gavin Priestley, Peter Hetherington and Sam Romano voted to continue with the project.

“It was a debate we had to have,” Cr Davis said yesterday.

“I think there was respect on all sides and I don’t think we’re all that far apart.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder in that we all want to fix Orange’s water.”

Cr Davis said defeat of the motion had made him “more confident than ever” that Orange’s water would be secured in the next 12 to 18 months.

“This is too important a subject to play with,” he said.

“All of the councillors were supportive two and a half years ago, we all took that challenge up.”

Deputy mayor Jeff Whitton said he was disappointed the motion had failed, but the result was as expected.

“I thought the councillors who spoke for the motion to abandon the Macquarie pipeline spoke very well and in great detail,” he said.

“While they’re 100 per cent in favour of securing Orange’s water, they thought the Macquarie pipeline is not a key option and that the council is putting all its eggs into it as a silver bullet when it hasn’t got the community support.”

Cr Whitton said he would now focus on making sure Orange City Council closely investigated alternative water supply options while it was developing its pipeline proposal.

“As part of the process we have to supply alternatives to the pipeline,” he said.

“I’ll be ensuring those other options are getting as much attention and effort from council staff as the pipeline is getting.”

lisa.cox@ruralpress.com