Renewed calls for grouting under Newcastle

The Greens have revived calls for a state-funded, mine grouting project in Newcastle, with support from the Hunter Development Corporation.

An estimated $50 million in funding is required to in-fill the network of old mine workings beneath the city centre and west-end of Newcastle.

City projects have been stalled by requirements to grout underneath foundations prior to commencing building works, as developers are often required to grout under neighbouring properties as well, which adds prohibitive costs to some projects.

Greens candidate Michael Osbourne raised the issue at a local Property Council luncheon today.

 “Everyone seems to stand back and wait for their neighbour to do half the work for them,” Osborne said.

 “If all the grouting could be done in one hit, the problem is solved and the state government could recover its money from the landowners as developments are approved.”

Osbourne said he was confident in receiving support from the NSW state government.

“I am optimistic, because of the sale of the Port of Newcastle and there’s $1.5 billion now in the kitty, and I believe those funds should come back to Newcastle and the Hunter for the revitalisation of this region,” he said.

“Property developers have told me that grouting the mine works is an impediment to urban development in the city, so setting up a revolving fund where priority projects are grouted first, the costs of those groutings are then shared among the development sites that benefit from those, that money then goes back into the fund and the work continues until all of the underground mine workings in Newcastle are grouted.”

Osbourne said there was broad support for the move, from the Property Council, the Hunter Development Corporation and the Chamber of Business, as well as all four candidates who will stand at the next state by-election in Newcastle.

The main candidates up for election are independents Karen Howard and Jacqueline Haines, Labor member Tim Crakanthorp, and Michael Osbourne for the Greens.

Newcastle has been represented by a duty MP, Scot MacDonald, since August when former Liberal MP Tim Owen was forced to stand down after he confessed to a corruption inquiry at ICAC proceedings.

Owen had lied about returning an envelope containing $10,000 to property developer and former Newcastle mayor Jeff McCloy, who also resigned in relation to the same matter in August.

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