Illawarra misses out on funding upgrade

The Illawarra has again missed out on funding to help regions affected by mining - despite having several coalmines that delivered more mining royalties to the government than some of the successful areas.

The Resources for Regions program is designed to provide up to $160 million to deal with the additional stress on local roads and infrastructure caused by mining activity and truck movements.

Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner yesterday announced the criteria for funding would be broadened - allowing the Lithgow, Narrabri, Cobar, Newcastle and Mid-Western local government areas to be eligible for millions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades.

But Wollongong will not be in the running, despite having several major coalmines operating in the region, transporting coal to Port Kembla.

Last year, mining in the Wollongong area delivered more royalties to the government than any of the newly eligible regions. It misses out on the scheme because the government has decided to use mining royalties per capita to rank how areas are affected by mining.

A spokesman for Mr Stoner said the government's decision was based on an economic assessment performed by an "inter-departmental working group".

He said Wollongong was considered but the working group determined "mining royalties per capita was the best proxy to measure the extent to which an LGA was affected by mining".

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said that was "outrageous".

"Our ratepayers [are] having to pay for the wear and tear on our roads, streets and the cost to our amenity" he said.

"Bringing coal down here has such a massive impact on our city and we're getting nothing back to recognise [it]."

He said Newcastle was included, despite contributing no royalties per capita.

"How could you include Newcastle and not Wollongong in this process?"

Mr Stoner said Newcastle had been included because of the high number of truck movements each day between mines and the port.

Member for Keira Ryan Park said he was "furious" the Illawarra had been "ignored".

"They are more than happy to put their hands out to accept our local mining royalties for the government's coffers, yet they are not willing to put some of that back into our region to improve infrastructure," he said.

"As someone with a mine located in the heart of my electorate I know first-hand that infrastructure enhancements, particularly roads, are in desperate need of upgrading."

NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee welcomed the broadened program but said expanding it to the Illawarra should be considered.

"It is important that government spending on infrastructure and services keeps pace with the needs of all NSW mining regions," he said.

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