It seems the dark spectre of Tillegra Dam will hang over the Lower Hunter for a while longer.
And, perhaps of more importance, taxpayers will
continue to fork out for the now defunct project, this time in the form of a pay cheque for a government consultant who has been hired to help dismantle the wrongs of the past administration.
The latest development in this long and sorry saga again centres on Hunter Water which has called for tenders to help develop a long term strategy for the farmland that was purchased to make way for the dam.
The specialist consultant will be engaged to develop the strategy which will focus on Hunter Water's landholdings in the Williams River Valley.
Local stakeholders, including Dungog Shire Council, the community and relevant government planning authorities, have been promised a say in developing the strategy.
This is a positive move, without question.
Hunter Water’s management says it wants to ensure that the best value for the land is achieved “for the benefit of the local economy and ultimately Hunter Water's
customers" and that it is expected a staged release of land over the long term will be considered as part of the
That too, would seem to be the correct procedure.
But what of the land and its former owners who, afterall, have been put through more than enough over many years?
The No Tillegra Dam Group believes Hunter Water never considered land values when it pressured Williams River Valley landowners into selling their land in the first place; now the facility wants to maximise returns.
The tragedy is that the number of lives that were changed forever when farmers were forced off their land may never be fully known; nor the lost agricultural production from some of the richest farmland in the state.
There is more than a touch of irony to this situation but what is for certain is that the events of the past must not be repeated anywhere in the state, anytime in the future.