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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 1 April 2024


UPPER HUNTER Electorate residents are encouraged to contribute to the newly established regional crime inquiry.


The Legislative Assembly’s Committee on Law and Safety is accepting public submissions for the inquiry until 31 May.


The committee wants regional and rural communities have their say on law and order issues with the inquiry to report back to Parliament in February next year.


It’s the result of work by the Country Mayors Association with support from the NSW Police Association, NSW Farmers and the Country Women’s Association of NSW, who have called on the Minns Labor government to take action to combat regional crime.


For more information and to lodge a submission go to:



Ark Energy will provide a community update this week on the preparation of a scoping report for an extension to the Bowmans Creek Wind Farm near Muswellbrook


Bowmans Creek Wind Farm Stage 2 is proposed for land located in the centre of the project area for the development approved by the NSW Independent Planning Commission in February.


The project area is approximately 12 kilometres east of Muswellbrook with Ark Energy proposing an additional 21 wind turbines adding up to 120 megawatts of output capacity.


The information session is being held on Wednesday 3 April, 4.00-6.00pm at the Mt Olive Community Centre on Carrowbrook Road.


To follow progress on the Bowmans Creek Wind Farm check:


The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is undertaking essential maintenance and improvement works on the Hunter Valley network this week.


The line is closed from Kooragang Island to Muswellbrook, west to Ulan and north to Narrabri from 6.30am Wednesday 3 April until 6.30am Saturday 6 April.


The shutdown, part of ARTC’s annual maintenance program, includes track reconditioning at Wingen with the temporary closure of the Gateleys Road level crossing, ballast cleaning at Singleton and replacing sections of rail in Yarrawa.


Traffic control will be in place at Gateleys Road to safely guide road users and ensure students can safely get on and off school buses.


Coaches and buses replace NSW TrainLink services during the three-day shutdown with customers advised to visit or call 13 22 32 for journey planning assistance.



As milder autumn weather settles in fire agencies and land managers are turning their attention to conducting hazard reduction works.


The Rural Fire Service (RFS) is asking residents to monitor its hazard reduction page for information about planned burns and smoke advisories:


However, we are also being advised not to become complacent about the danger of bush and grass fires, even with the milder local conditions.


While most of the state finished the Bush Fire Danger Period over the Easter weekend,

landholders are still required to notify the RFS and neighbours of their intention to burn at least 24 hours before lighting up.


For more information on the bush fire danger period, especially in the neighbouring Mid Western Regional Council area, visit:



Singleton residents have the opportunity to comment on the local council’s draft Operational Plan, which is currently on public exhibition.


The draft details 162 actions that council will undertake over the upcoming financial year with a $47 million capital works budget and programs proposed to deliver outcomes in sustainability, public art, youth and economic development.


Major capital works include the Alroy Oval sports precinct redevelopment, the Singleton AFL building, replacement of Brunners Bridge and Kilfoyles Bridge plus the upgrade of Stanhope Road.


The draft 2024-25 Operational Plan is available online with hard copies also available at Singleton Council’s Administration Building, Singleton Visitor Information Centre, Singleton Public Library and Singleton Youth Venue with feedback closing on 22 April.


The Muswellbrook Gold Cup race meeting is being held this Friday, 5 April, and will be marked with a half-day public holiday.


Muswellbrook Shire Council sought the community’s view on the proposed 2024 public holiday when it undertook a survey, with most participants supporting the half-day for the Cup.


The public holiday commences from noon for the towns and villages within the Muswellbrook local government area with all council offices, including waste management facilities, closed from midday.


Gates at Skellatar Park open at 11am and race patrons can travel free on shuttle buses from stops within the town including Muswellbrook train station between Noon and 2pm, before return services depart the racecourse at 6pm.



Service NSW’s Mobile Service Centre will visit the Dungog shire next Wednesday.

Grey Street Clarence Town is the stop for the mobile service on 10 April, 9am- 12pm.

Cowper Street Stroud will then be the venue for Service NSW on Thursday, 18 April, 9am-to-3pm.


The Upper Hunter shire has visits scheduled for Mayne Street Murrurundi, 9am-3pm, on Wednesday 8 May and Liverpool Street Scone, Thursday 9 May, 9am to 4pm.


Mobile Service Centres offer similar services to physical Service NSW sites including

photo card applications and renewals, applications for birth, death and marriage certificates as well as the Savings Finder program of more than 70 government rebates and vouchers.



Hunter Local Land Services is warning horse owners about caterpillar nests that are currently being seen in many areas throughout the region.


It has prompted concerns about Equine Amnionitis and Foetal Loss (EAFL), which was initially identified in the Hunter Valley in 2004, and contributes to abortions and the birth of compromised foals when pregnant mares are inadvertently exposed to some types of hairy caterpillars.


The disease is caused by exposure to the hairs of the Processionary Caterpillar (Ochrogaster lunifer) when horses accidentally ingest them while grazing contaminated pasture.


The caterpillars grow in nests that resemble large tents/bags in the branches or at the base of trees with landholders recommended to carefully remove then bag and bury the nests.


Early intervention, including removal of nests containing shed caterpillar skins and targeted treatment, can protect pregnant mares and deliver a healthy foal.


See the LLS’s Hunter Regional Outlook, March 2024 for more information;



Hunter Valley Police District has put tradespeople on notice that they need to be alert at all times to protect their tools.


Officers warn that thieves are opportunistic and know many tradies have expensive tools and equipment.


NSW Police tips to thwart thieves include - not leaving expensive tools and equipment in vehicles or at worksites overnight and keeping vehicle doors, windows and storage locked even when working on site.


You can also engrave or mark tools with a driver licence number as well as photographing and recording details of expensive tools or equipment.


Remember - Don’t Let Fools Steal Your Tools - Lock it or Lose it, to protect your tools.



Hunter Water has re-opened public access to Chichester Dam near Dungog following a temporary closure in late-January.


The dam wall, upper and lower carparks and picnic facilities next to the dam wall were impacted while work was carried out to improve the performance and reliability at water and wastewater facilities.


Areas now accessible include the dam wall, the middle carpark and picnic facilities next to the dam wall and the upper picnic area.


The lower car park and picnic area will remain closed.


Some work to finish the recent project to improve the performance and reliability of water infrastructure will continue, but it will not impact visitors’ access.


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