Macquarie crew hits Canberra as pipeline proposal flounders

ACTIVISTS from the Friends of the Macquarie group met senior government officials in Canberra this week to lobby against an unpopular pipeline proposal that threatens protected native fish.

Meanwhile, speculation about the pipeline’s viability intensified amid concerns about growing public opposition to the project, as well as continuing delays, mismanagement and claims of bureaucratic bungling by Orange City Council.

Angling conservation campaigners Ken Smith, Paul Wettin, Matt Hansen and Dr Bill Phillips told federal Government officials on Monday that plans by Orange City Council to construct a 37km-long pipeline to a pristine area of the Macquarie River in central western NSW would endanger protected trout cod, Murray cod, silver perch, catfish and many other native species.

Organised by Keep Australia Fishing, the meeting resulted in officials from Environment Minister Tony Burke’s office being made aware of significant ecological concerns surrounding the contentious pipeline proposal.

Officials were also informed of various alternative water supply options that were cheaper and more sustainable than the pipeline proposal.

Friends of the Macquarie activists have urged the federal Government to refuse to allow $20m in funding it has committed to guaranteeing Orange’s long-term water security to be used for the pipeline, instead saying the money should be used to fund an alternative project.

In related news, Fisho understands constant delays, claims of bureaucratic inefficiency and public outrage have put the pipeline’s viability in serious doubt. Sources in NSW and Canberra say the proposal has little support in government circles.

“This all seems to be driven by a couple of people in Orange City Council,” one source said.

“Other than that, it seems to be extremely unpopular. There doesn’t seem to be any particular imperative to make it happen. I’d be surprised to see it eventuate.”

Stay tuned to for further developments.

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