Cuts blamed for worker camp delay

STAFF cuts in the State Government Department of Transport and Main Roads' Emerald office have been blamed for holding up the decision on an application for a workers' accommodation camp near Blackwater.

The Central Highlands Regional Council was forced to defer Transpac Capital's bid to put an 896-person camp on a 100-acre lifestyle block surrounded by families on Yackham Rd after the department failed to lodge a conditions of development notice within the nominated timeframe.

Mayor Peter Maguire unleashed a tirade against the department after town planner Maryanne Thornely revealed the nine objections received focused on access to Yackham Rd from the Capricorn Hwy and other traffic concerns.

"We need proper peer review of this," Cr Maguire commented.

"This is not going to be well received by the applicants and TMR when I call them because… they (TMR) are once again impacting on development in the region," Cr Maguire said.

"… TMR haven't responded in the timeframes, and I'm not having a shot at staff but TMR have laid off 13 people in the town.

"If this application can be approved, we're going to need those intersection requirements TMR is going to come up with.

"I apologise to everyone involved."

Cr Gail Nixon said the TMR response was needed as the state-controlled intersection was 'dangerous'.

Transpac general manager of project development Troy Christensen had previously said the company wanted to complete stage one's 248 units by July this year, pending council approval.

"I understand camps are a contentious issue in the Blackwater township and there appears to be strong opposition to the camps," Mr Christensen added.

"This was one of the reasons why the village is proposed outside of town."

The controversial application has raised the ire of Yackham Rd residents, who claim it would be built in a protected ecosystem just 300m from the nearest homestead.

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