THE FOLLOWING REPORT BY DANIELLE CETINSKI IN THE CENTRAL WESTERN DAILY ON 2 AUGUST 2019 HAS BEEN LIGHTLY CONDENSED.
‘A VISIT from the state’s latest environment minister to Mount Canobolas has renewed hopes for a mountain bike trail centre, although there is still no timeframe on when the necessary approvals might come through.
The management plan for the Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area was lodged with then-minister Mark Speakman in September 2016 and passed to Gabrielle Upton when she took on the portfolio in January 2017.
Matt Kean became the minister following the Coalition’s victory in March and said in a statement the mountain was a drawcard and was valuable ecologically and culturally.
“Which is why I wanted to see it for myself,” he said.
Mr Kean met member for Orange Phil Donato, Orange mayor Reg Kidd and acting general manager David Waddell, Cabonne mayor Kevin Beatty and general manager Brad Byrnes, as well as representatives from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and the cycling community.
“Conservation areas provide important protections for biodiversity and threatened plant species, and they also provide valuable spaces for recreational activities,” Mr Kean said.
“I want to ensure we strike the right balance in the Mount Canobolas plan of management.”
However, he did not respond to questions on why the plan had not been dealt with in almost three years, despite going on public exhibition in July 2018.
He also did not comment on his personal position on the plan, when it would be finalised or whether he would follow it up with funding to build the project.
The state conservation area does not currently permit mountain biking and applications for funding have been knocked back.
Mr Donato said “It just allows the proposal to go to the next stage.
“This is the base position we’ve been in for a couple of years – I can’t speak for the minister, but we are optimistic, hopefully he will see we need it.”
Councils will also have to do some preparation – Cabonne Council, whose area the mountain falls within, is yet to formally consider the matter and will have to pass a resolution.
Meanwhile Orange City Council, which does not control the mountain but has been driving the project, will have to complete a feasibility study.’