Where Upper Lachlan's $1m drought funding will be spent

$1 million in drought funding is set to be spent on replacing a bridge and footpaths in the Upper Lachlan Shire, despite some councillors saying they wanted to pursue more community-focused projects.

Drought: The council has applied for drought relief funding to be spent on the Peelwood Road timber bridge and walking paths. Source: upperlachlan.nsw.gov.au

Drought: The council has applied for drought relief funding to be spent on the Peelwood Road timber bridge and walking paths. Source: upperlachlan.nsw.gov.au

The council has applied to use its grant from the Drought Communities Programme, which it was included in last November, to replace Peelwood Road bridge and footpaths identified in its Public Access and Mobility Plan.

The two projects were presented to councillors by council staff at a workshop in November, but councillor Richard Opie said there were "voiced opponents".

"There wasn't a conclusion. There was one recommendation put up for both options," he said at the council's ordinary meeting on December 19, when he raised the subject again by providing questions with notice.

Cr Opie said the council should have gone to the community for ideas, adding that a rural South Australian council had turned to a group of school students for input on how to spend its $1m.

At the same workshop, councillors considered using a $2.527 million grant from the Building Better Regions Fund Round Four to reconstruct three kilometres along Wombeyan Caves Road.

Councillor Ron Cummins also said at the council meeting that he thought the Building Better Regions funding would be better spent on replacing Peelwood Road bridge and the drought funding on community-focused projects.

The council went ahead after the workshop and applied for the go-ahead from the Building Better Regions Fund on December 19 and to the Drought Communities Programme on January 21, and is waiting to hear back.

Others forgotten by Drought Programme

Upper Lachlan Shire and Hilltops were included in the November Drought Communities Programme Extension, while Goulburn Mulwaree and Yass Valley were left questioning why they missed out.

Funding criteria is based on Bureau of Meteorology rainfall data and requires that 17 per cent of employment in the local government area is linked to agriculture.

BOM's 19-month rainfall deficiencies map shows a 'severe deficiency' in Upper Lachlan, Yass Valley and Goulburn Mulwaree.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing account for 25.8 per cent (908 people) in Upper Lachlan, 7.7 per cent (619) people in Yass Valley and 3.7 per cent (475 people) in Goulburn Mulwaree, according to 2016 Census data.

Aside from those figures, a previous Australian Community Media investigation found Liberal or Nationals MPs held 12 of the 13 seats in council areas included in the first funding extension.

Liberal or National MPs also held five of the six council areas included in the November extension and six of the seven NSW council areas included in the January extension.

Upper Lachlan Shire and Goulburn Mulwaree federal seats are held by the Nationals, however, Yass Valley is a seat held by Labor.

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