MidCoast Council votes to refurbish Stratford facilities with mining funds

Stratford's public park to be upgraded with mining funds

MidCoast Council has voted to spend a portion of Stratford Coal mine's annual contribution on upgrading facilities in Stratford village.

The commitment was approved in an unanimous vote at the August 25 ordinary meeting as part of an amendment to the Stratford funding recommendation prepared by council's coordinator of community development, Lyndie Hepple.

The mine item in the council papers was in regard to the Gloucester Education Fund committee asking MidCoast Council for a commitment in writing for the historic 50 per cent portion of the annual contribution to the fund.

According to Gloucester Education Fund committee chair John Walton, there hasn't been a formal agreement in writing since the funding began.

"It was discussed with the (former) Gloucester Shire Council but never eventuated," John explained.

Despite there not being a written commitment, the education fund has been awarding funds to young people and businesses to support further education via an annual grant application process.

When the matter came before the council in August, Councillor Katheryn Smith put forward an amendment for the 50 per cent commitment to include an allocation of the remainder of the contribution to be spent in Stratford village.

The annual payment is part of Stratford Coal's development consent, which states under the heading of 'Community Enhancement' that the mine 'shall pay to the (former) Gloucester Shire Council a total of $550 a year for each full-time equivalent employee/contractor on the site'.

"This payment is for the provision of infrastructure and services generated by the development. It is also to be indexed in accordance with the CPI for the December quarter of the previous year (except for the initial payment)," the council report stated.

"Based on the current number of full-time employees, the annual contribution made by the mine is approximately $36,000. Therefore a 50 per cent allocation to the Gloucester Education Fund is $18,000."

At this stage, the mine is in its final three years of production under the approval given in 2015 with operations expected to conclude at the end of 2024.

The final motion moved by Cr Smith and seconded by Cr Claire Pontin stated that 50 per cent of the annual developer contributions from Stratford Coal is to be allocated to the Gloucester Education Fund and that 25 per cent for the next two years is to be allocated to upgrading facilities in Stratford, including but not limited to refurbishment of infrastructure/facilities to public toilets, picnic tables, playground equipment and the barbecue. It was also included in the motion that the Community Consultative Committee is be consulted in the future distribution of the remaining 25 per cent and the matter be reviewed in two years.