MAYOR Bobby Bourke says he is disappointed but not surprised that plans to start work on Bathurst's new $4.5 million go-kart track have been stalled for at least 30 days after Environment Minister Sussan Ley intervened on Friday.
Ms Ley has made a declaration under Section 9 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act (ATSIHPA), which will prevent starting the work as planned.
It came after Bathurst Wiradyuri elders lodged applications for Section 9 (emergency) and Section 10 (indefinite) protection in early 2019, saying the site in McPhillamy Park earmarked for the track was land of cultural significance to the local Indigenous community.
Bathurst Regional Council general manager David Sherley also confirmed the NSW Supreme Court had issued a cease work order for works associated with the go-kart track following a hearing on Friday.
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Cr Bourke said he was not surprised that Ms Ley had issued the Section 9 order but was disappointed she had left the decision so late.
"The application has been with her department for over 12 months through this whole saga," Cr Bourke said.
"This council has always been open with the government about the plans and we've spent around $1 million on Aboriginal and heritage studies and believe, as a council, we have done the right thing.
"But we have minority parties who like to protest, as is their right, but we also have the right as an elected body to make decisions."
The Section 9 emergency declaration made by the minister on Friday remains in place for 30 days. Such orders can be made to prevent the "injury or desecration of an Indigenous site".
"The Section 9 declaration will prevent work taking place," Ms Ley said.
"Having now received reports from the department, including those submissions received recently from Traditional Owners, l would like to meet with the parties involved.
"I will travel to Bathurst next Friday before reviewing the issues further to determine whether a declaration with longer effect should be made under Section 10 of the Act."
Cr Bourke said he was looking forward to welcoming Ms Ley to Bathurst.
"I'm glad that we will have the opportunity to talk to her so she could "see first-hand where the track will be going and the due diligence council has done," he said.
Mr Sherley said council was advised on Friday of both the minister's protection order and a cease work order from the NSW Supreme Court.
"The emergency declaration put a stay on the commencement of works on the project for 30 days. Accordingly, council will not be commencing works on site on Monday, March 8," he said.
"In addition, following a hearing in the NSW Supreme Court today [Friday], council has been issued with a cease work order for works associated with the go-kart track.
"This legal action is being pursued by King & Wood Malleson, acting on behalf of the Wiradyuri Traditional Owners Central West Aboriginal Corporation.
"Council has agreed to this cease work order.
"Council continues to consider its options in regards to these two matters."
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