Controversial plans to bring another motor sport to Bathurst’s famous Mount Panorama have been revived, with the council selecting a new site for a long-awaited go-kart track.
- The Bathurst Regional Council will work towards building a go-kart track adjacent to the Mount Panorama racetrack
- The original location at the top of of the mountain was blocked due to concerns about damage to Aboriginal cultural heritage
- The council will also ask the federal government for compensation for the first failed site
The Bathurst Regional Council has resolved to get cracking on its contentious go-kart track at a new location, while also lobbying for compensation over the blocking of construction at its first choice of site.
The council last night voted to fast-track the development on land which was formerly used for a drive-in cinema and orchard, adjacent to the world-famous Conrod Straight at Mt Panorama.
It had wanted to build the track within a park at the mountain’s summit, but some local Aboriginal people said it was a sacred site and in May, the federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley granted their application for a protection order under cultural heritage legislation.
It followed a temporary order Ms Ley issued in March, only days before substantial construction work was due to begin.
As well as working towards starting construction on the new site, Councillor Warren Aubin’s notice of motion will see the council “vigorously request” financial compensation from the federal government to make up for the money lost as it pursued the ultimately doomed original development.
Twenty year wait
The decision, which came nearly six years after the development was first approved by the council and after pre-construction work had been undertaken, was slammed by councillors.
“The council was totally and poorly treated by the federal minister in this case,” Cr Aubin said.
He outlined how a push to build a track for the Bathurst Kart Club had begun in 2001.
Council general manager David Sherley advised the council had contacted the minister and local federal member Andrew Gee regarding compensation, as it had followed all legal process in approving the track.
But to date, there had been no response from either politician.
Mr Sherley said he was optimistic the new site would not be opposed by the Wiradyuri Traditional Owners Central West Aboriginal Corporation (WTOCWAC), which had fought the original McPhillamy Park location.
He said an Aboriginal cultural heritage assessment of the former orchard and drive-in had not raised any concerns and its use for camping had not been opposed by the Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council or WTOCWAC.
Councillor Monica Morse, who has been among the minority four dissenting voices to the development, called for unity now that a new site had been selected.
“So I would like to ask the famous five (the other five councillors) to put the past behind them, to show an example not just to our community but to the wider community … and let’s work together for the benefit of a good go-kart project,” she said.
“We can do it,” Cr Morse said.
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