VicRoads will soon make a recommendation to Victorian Planning Minister Mathew Guy about its preferred route for a second Echuca-Moama bridge.By Trent Horneman
VicRoads will conclude its study into potential second Murray River bridge route options and make a recommendation to Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy ‘‘within the coming month’’.
VicRoads began its study — which looked at traffic, flora and fauna, cultural heritage, hydrology, noise, social impacts, land use, regional economy, landscape and geotechnical issues — in August 2011.
If it recommends mid-west 2B, it will join Campaspe and Murray shires and Yorta Yorta Nations Aboriginal Corporation in support of the option.
Once VicRoads hands over its study and recommendation, it will be up to Mr Guy to take the issue to a planning panel or approve a route without a panel.
Murray and Campaspe shires will discuss this month whether to join Committee for Echuca-Moama’s campaign to expedite the planning process.
Last month, C4EM wrote to Mr Guy asking him to waive the panel.
Murray Shire councillors will discuss whether to join C4EM’s campaign at a meeting on Tuesday, while Campaspe Shire councillors will form their view at a meeting on January 22.
Campaspe Shire mayor Ian Maddison said he wanted fellow councillors to have all possible information before making a decision.
Cr Maddison said he feared possible legal action if the planning panel process was waived.
Cr Maddison warned expediting the planning panel could mean Echuca-Moama residents could have to wait longer for a new bridge.
He said if Mr Guy approved a route without the planning panel, the decision could potentially be taken to court or an administrative tribunal.
‘‘It could be a case though of less haste and more speed,’’ he said.
‘‘At our next meeting we will discuss whether to encourage the minister to call it in or take a normal course of action as part of the planning process.
‘‘We need to take advice to ensure the best outcome is reached.
‘‘It is clear that all residents in Echuca-Moama and surrounding areas want a second river crossing, but we want to be confident we have the best option that affects the least amount of people.’’
Cr Maddison said ultimately Mr Guy would have to make the tough decision, despite local government and Yorta Yorta supporting the same alignment.
‘‘Minister Guy and his best advisers will be also looking at all options,’’ he said.
‘‘As opposed to C4EM which is self-appointed, Campaspe Shire councillors are elected to represent the community and we have to make the best decision for them.’’
Cr Maddison said he expected Mr Guy to make a decision shortly.
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