Upper Lachlan Councillors at last Thursday’s meeting reversed the decision made at the August meeting to deny Goldwind developers the right to lay an underground cable along certain lanes to connect the northern section of the Gullen Range wind farm to the State electricity grid.
And subsequently, at a closed meeting, Council decided to enter into an agreement with Goldwind that will allow the cables to be laid along Prices Lane, Learys Lane and Range Road.
Goldwind will be required to reconstruct and bitumen seal the areas affected.
The rescission motion was moved by Crs. James Wheelwright, Paul Culhane and Jo Marshall – the three who had opposed rejection of Goldwind’s request at the August meeting.
This time they were successful, the motion being carried 4/2 without Mayor Cr. John Shaw needing to declare a vote.
Cr. Darren O’Brien was absent from the meeting, and Cr. Brian McCormack declared an interest (his brother’s property is involved in the wind farm) and left the Chamber during the debate.
Cr. Scott Craig joined the movers of the rescission motion to see it carried, while Crs. Malcolm Barlow and John Searl opposed.
Cr. Wheelwright said the rescission was justified because information which would have been made available to Councillors at a closed session of the August meeting was not available at the open meeting debate.
“If the full information had been available to us the decision could have been different,” he added.
Cr. Barlow, opposing rescission, said that the information referred to had been available to Councillors before the meeting. “It was not unknown information,” he said.
“The only matter not mentioned was the estimate of cost by the Director of Works, which was quite superfluous.
“There is nothing new in the rescission motion – Cr. Wheelwright had every opportunity to persuade the other Councillors at the time.”
Cr. Culhane: “Because the report was not before us we could not allude to it; we were unable to hear from our officers for expert advice.”
Cr. Wheelwright said rescission would only take the matter back to Council, and open the debate to all with the additional information available.
Crs. Wheelwright, Craig, Culhane and Marshall voted for rescission, with Crs. Barlow and Searl opposed.
Cr. Barlow also challenged the need for Council going into closed session to further discuss the Goldwind application.
General Manager Mr. John Bell replied: “We’ll be talking about someone else’s finances.”
Cr. Barlow: “All the figures we have are the Director’s estimates.
“Commercial in confidence as I understand it involves competing tenders and costings.
“Here there is only an estimate of a cost to Goldwind to seal the roads.
“I can’t see any reason for a closed meeting.”
Cr. Searl supported Cr. Barlow in this view.
Cr. Wheelwright: “It was listed as a closed meeting before.”
From the crowded public gallery Mr. Humphrey Price-Jones interjected: “We still haven’t been given a reason for a closed Council.”
Cr. Shaw: “It is because of commercial in confidence matters.”
Mr. Price-Jones: “Commercial in confidence is not involved – it’s a matter of transparency.”
The motion for closed meeting was carried with Crs. Barlow and Searl opposed.
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