HOT MIX: Private firm looks at opening road-surface plant in Orange

BETTER ROADS: Cr Jeff Whitton wants a hot mix road surface plant for Orange. Photo:  CARLA FREEDMAN 0729cfhotmix4
BETTER ROADS: Cr Jeff Whitton wants a hot mix road surface plant for Orange. Photo: CARLA FREEDMAN 0729cfhotmix4

An asphalt company has shown interest in establishing a plant in Orange.

The issue of re-establishing road-surface making facilities in the city is up for debate at Tuesday night’s Orange City Council meeting.

The council papers reveal the asphalt company and council staff have been in talks.

“Staff have been in active discussions with a prospective asphalt company that has approached council to setup a batching plant here in Orange,” it said.

“Staff would recommend the opportunity for a private company to establish here in Orange would be the lowest risk solution for council achieving the desired outcome of increased local employment and local asphalt supply.”

However, councillor Jeff Whitton, who will move a notice of motion on the hot mix plant at the council meeting, said it was the first he had heard of the un-named company’s interest since council debated the issue last November.

My preferred option would be a facility that is council-owned.

Cr Jeff Whitton

“It’s been nine months, discussions don’t really take that long,” he said.

Cr Whitton said he understood there might be confidentiality and commercial issues but he would urge council to push ahead with developing a business case for running its own plant.

“My preferred option would be a facility that is council-owned, and if needs be, we employ people to run it.”

Cr Whitton said talk of the plant costing $10 million might be unrealistic.

“I don’t want a facility to service all of NSW, I want to service the needs of Orange,” he said. “We don’t need a $10 million facility when a $1 million facility would suffice.”

He said that while council would be spared the costs of setting up and running the plant if a private company came to Orange, council would still have to pay for hot mix and would still be dependent on the company for supply and prices.

Cr Whitton said companies had closed asphalt plants in Orange before and there was risk they could do it again, putting Orange back in the current situation of having to buy asphalt from out-of-town.

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