The NSW Government once pledged to take back 15,000 kilometres of regional roads from NSW councils, but that plan may be at risk.

The NSW Government committed to taking back 15,000 kilometres of council-managed roads at the last election, and the move was welcomed by councils, as the roads represent a massive administrative and financial burden.

But Transport for NSW (TfNSW) asset management papers now suggest the Government does not have the money to cover the transfer of the roads, according to the peak body for councils.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott says it is another case “where State and Federal Government force councils to assume responsibility for infrastructure and services without sufficient funding support”.

“In 2018/19 alone, around $820 million was cost shifted to NSW councils, part of a burden estimated at $6.2 billion over 10 years,” Cr Scott said.

She said the State Government’s $1 billion pledge to fix NSW roads and bridges and promise to take back 15,000 kilometres of roads at the last election was hard fought for by LGNSW and universally praised by NSW councils as a way to lift a major financial burden.

“As recently as January the Government appeared to be progressing its promise with the appointment of an expert panel to begin identifying roads that would be handed back to State Government,” Cr Scott said.

“But this TfNSW document says it is almost certain the funding is currently not available to transfer ownership of the roads.”

Cr Scott said at this stage there has been no confirmation the Government is considering going back on its promise, but it is yet to be budgeted for, which is disheartening for councils battling an unprecedented series of major disasters.

“Drought, bushfires and now the impacts of COVID 19 have devastated rural and regional councils across the State,” she said.

“The hope of finally being free from the cost-shifting arrangement of road management was a bright spot on the financial horizon.

“It is absolutely vital the NSW Government sticks to this commitment and we will be seeking assurances that they will follow through with their promise.”