Overblown road claims

MOYNE Shire chief executive David Madden has admitted that estimates of multi-million-dollar road repair bills for wind farm construction damage were exaggerated ambit claims.

He described a recent $1m payment by wind energy company AGL for road repairs as a fair settlement despite him last year saying the shire faced a repair bill totalling about $14m.

“We believe we got a good deal,” he told The Standard.

“The money we secured will fix the Macarthur-Hawkesdale Road to better than it was before.

“My office estimated the $14m figure for all roads outside the planning permit requirements to rebuild them to brand new standards.

“VicRoads didn’t spend the $50m it was estimating to repair the damage to arterial roads — they have repaired most of the roads at way below that estimate.”

Mr Madden said last year’s estimates were an ambit claim designed to get the state government and wind farm companies to the discussion table.

“It was part of our strategy. We didn’t believe permit conditions issued by the previous state government were adequate,” he said.

“We have done our best to get greater control over permit conditions for roads in future projects and VicRoads has introduced new policies to ensure their roads are better looked after.

“There are still four projects to come with permits issued by the government of the old one-kilometre setback system.”

Critics have claimed the shire was short-changed and predicted ratepayers would bear the burden of road repairs for years to come.

AGL yesterday defended its contribution to the Macarthur project saying it spent more than $10m on road maintenance during the wind farm construction phase.

The additional $1m was for “warranty repair” agreed in December by AGL, Moyne Shire Council and Leighton contractors, AGL’s general manager of power development Scott Thomas told The Standard yesterday.

“AGL has honoured all conditions identified in the existing planning permit authorised by the Victorian Minister for Planning,” he said.

He said the company would continue to support the community during the Macarthur wind farm’s 25-year lifespan and provide ongoing employment.

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