POLL: Tillegra revival ruled out

An artist's impression of what the dam may have looked like.
An artist's impression of what the dam may have looked like.

TILLEGRA Dam is off the table despite a leaked document suggesting the proposal could be resurrected, the state government said yesterday.

The site near Dungog reclaimed the spotlight yesterday when a leaked federal Coalition paper reportedly listed it among 100dam projects under consideration. 

But the state government has stood firm against the project, which was scuppered in 2010. Finance Minister Greg Pearce said the $377million dam was ‘‘ruled out’’ as an option.

‘‘It is not on the table,’’ Mr Pearce said.

‘‘We will put the view [to the federal opposition] that Tillegra is not an option for the Hunter.’’

Paterson Liberal MP Bob Baldwin shared the sentiment, committing to fight any potential revival of the divisive dam.

Mr Baldwin said the leaked document was a draft policy discussion paper and nothing was confirmed.

‘‘No decisions have been made and no dams have been ruled in or out at this stage,’’ Mr Baldwin said. ‘‘If, and I stress the word if, Tillegra Dam is put back on the table the people of the Hunter can count on me to stand up for them and strongly oppose its construction.’’

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the leaked draft dam plan was incomplete, and any projects would require ‘‘rigorous cost-benefit analysis’’ before going ahead.

‘‘But what we want to avoid is the dam-phobia that has afflicted our country for so long,’’ he said.

 ‘‘We certainly shouldn’t have this green extremism which says all dams are bad at all times everywhere.’’

Dungog mayor Harold Johnston said he was confident Tillegra was off the agenda as the Lower Hunter Water Plan took shape. 

But Cr Johnston conceded the dam rearing its head in draft policy was counter-productive.

A Hunter Water spokeswoman confirmed all former owners eligible to buy back land purchased for the dam had been contacted, with one formal offer issued so far.