THE state government’s key advisory body for major infrastructure projects is “reviewing” its plan for light rail in Newcastle.
But Infrastructure NSW insists its input into the project is “no different to what we would provide for any other significant infrastructure project”.
Infrastructure NSW was set up in 2011 to endorse major infrastructure projects put forward by the government.
But so far neither of its two state infrastructure strategies have included the light rail project, and while the organisation has previously said it is “supportive of measures to revitalise Newcastle's CBD”, it has continually failed to confirm whether it signed off on the project’s business case before it went ahead.
However, the Newcastle Herald understands the body is now reviewing the project as part of its “assurance role”.
“One of the key roles of Infrastructure NSW is to independently review major projects throughout their planning and delivery, to help keep projects within scope, time and budget,” a spokeswoman for Infrastructure NSW said.
“We conduct regular reviews on all major projects, and our input to Newcastle Light Rail is no different to what we would provide for any other significant infrastructure project.”
However Infrastructure NSW did not response to questions about whether the assurance review would include looking at the business case for the project.
“All proposed majorinfrastructure investments are subject to independent reviews at various stages, starting at inception and continuing throughout delivery, with projects only proceeding from business case to delivery when they have demonstrated strategic and economic merit,” she said.
“Infrastructure NSW’s role is to advise the Government of any risks throughout planning and delivery so they can be promptly addressed.”
Meanwhile rumblings have started on Newcastle City Council about the Connecting Newcastle document which calls for the state government to extend the proposed light rail route to include a loop through Pacific Park and down the Hunter Street Mall.
Greens Councillor Therese Doyle has put forward a notice of motion which expresses “concern” at the release of the document when it has not been put before council.
But Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the document would go before council.
“Connecting Newcastle is my vision for Newcastle based on decades of long held planning principles for urban renewal,” she said.
“Connecting Newcastle’s vision demonstrates how light rail can be used in the city and extended to the suburbs for the benefit of all Novocastrians.”