Residents clash with industry on Lake loop plan

FORESHORE: Resident representatives Sue Murray and Trevor Wrightson near the proposed cycleway site. Picture: Phil Hearne

A CRUCIAL part of a long-term cycleway plan to loop continuously around Lake Macquarie has hit a speed bump – a conflict between residents and a power station.

Residents in the city’s south have proposed a 12-kilometre cycleway, from Morisset Hospital to Gwandalan.

The route would include Crown land on the shore, in front of Delta Electricity’s Vales Point power station.

Mannering Park Precinct Committee said it had informed Delta of its plans, and the power plant later tried to rezone the foreshore land to prevent a cycleway.

Committee chairman Andrew Whitbourne said he had accidentally discovered the rezoning attempt, which was blocked after residents rallied against it.

‘‘We have unconditional support for the cycleway plan from our state and federal MPs,’’ Mr Whitbourne said.

A Delta spokeswoman said the state corporation had discussed with residents for more than a decade the idea of a cycleway plan around the foreshore land at Vales Point.

‘‘Delta has always expressed safety and security concerns about the proposal, given its proximity to the cooling water inlet canal and screens,’’ the spokeswoman said.

Delta said it had applied for the rezoning to cover ‘‘infrastructure used for existing operations and in recognition of our safety and security concerns’’.

The committee had since discovered that Delta had made moves to compulsorily acquire land ‘‘to prevent the community from having access for the shared pathway’’, Mr Whitbourne said.

Delta said no foreshore land was being acquired.

‘‘Some land is being acquired by the state on behalf of Delta, as part of the sale preparations for the power station,’’ the spokeswoman said.

Committee secretary Sue Murray said the committee had discovered that Delta had occupied Crown land on the foreshore for more than 50years and ‘‘not paid one cent’’ in lease fees to the government.

Mr Whitbourne said the committee had written to Swansea MP Garry Edwards, seeking decades of lease payments from Delta and ‘‘to have these funds used for the creation of our shared pathway’’.

Delta said it had ‘‘paid all rates and rent required on the lease it has with Crown Lands’’.

Delta had incurred no other lease fees, so there were ‘‘no arrears payable’’, it said.

Mrs Murray said Delta was not being a good neighbour.

‘‘This is not about the shared pathway any more, it’s about Delta’s land grab and their behaviour,’’ she said.

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