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Murray Shire Council says no to scrapping planning panel

Murray Shire Council have rejected a proposal which would see a planning panel for Echuca-Moama's second Murray bridge scrapped.

RUTH CLAYTON January 17, 2013 4:34am

Mid-west option 2B is one of the preferred routes for the second Echuca-Moama bridge.

Murray Shire Council yesterday rejected Committee for Echuca-Moama’s call to waive a planning panel for the towns’ second Murray River bridge.

All councillors except Sue Mulcahy and Brian Sharp voted in favour of general manager Greg Murdoch’s recommendation that council not support C4EM’s request.

In December, C4EM lobbied Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy to waive the need for a planning panel, which chief executive Hayden Cock believes could add another 18 months to the final decision on the bridge route.

Mr Murdoch said from his perspective there were many potential issues associated with expediting the bridge project.

He said one of the issues scrapping the planning panel could potentially lead to was ‘‘disenfranchising’’ community members by not considering their further input.

Mr Murdoch also said there would be no guarantee the Minister would choose council’s preferred option.

VicRoads has advised it is close to making its recommendation, based on planning studies of mid-west route options, to Mr Guy.

Routes 2A and 2B are the two most popular options.

‘‘There is definitely a body in the community who do not support 2B, who support 2A,’’ Mr Murdoch said.

Mayor Tom Weyrich said he had received a call from someone who would ‘‘definitely mount a legal challenge’’ if the process was fast-tracked and their preferred option not chosen.

‘‘As much as we’d like the bridge to be fast-tracked and up tomorrow, I think it might have some negative effects...who knows,’’ he said.

Cr John Pocklington said he would not support the initiative to expedite the bridge project.

‘‘We’ve been chasing the new bridge since the 50s...and it’s generally because the locals have interfered, changed their minds. Each of the propositions have fallen over,’’ Cr Pocklington said.

‘‘We’re so close to the finishing line now, just let the process run.’’

Cr Bill Anderson agreed.

‘‘I don’t think we should interfere with the process at this stage,’’ he said.

Cr Gen Campbell also said she would not endorse C4EM’s initiative.

She said C4EM was ‘‘trying to hijack the bridge for their own publicity and glory’’.

However Cr Sue Mulcahy said she supported the initiative.

‘‘I believe we should be moving forward,’’ Cr Mulcahy said.

The decision is not entirely a blow for C4EM.

Mr Cock told the Riverine Herald on Monday while Murray Shire’s support was important, it relied more on Campaspe Shire’s decision to support or reject the initiative.

Campaspe Shire will vote on the issue on Tuesday.

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