By Luis Feliu
A former state agriculture minister’s plan to extract 24 megalitres of water a year from a licensed bore on his Uki property and transporting it to a global soft-drinks giant’s bottling plant has raised the ire of locals from around the Tweed Valley village.
Residents will meet near the property on Rowlands Creek Road today (Tuesday) at 4pm in protest and to learn more about the contentious plan now on public exhibition.
Jack Hallam, who was agriculture minister under the Wran Labor government in the 1980s, retired to his ten-acre property a few kilometres from Uki over a decade ago.
In October his consultant lodged a plan to use the existing 25-megalitere a year licence from the NSW Office of Water on the property for ‘bulk loading and delivery of extracted water’.
The plan involves taking a maximum of 24 megalitres of water from the existing bore by large semi-trailer tankers (2.5-metre wide, 28,500-litre capacity) to the commercial bottler and distributor, believed to be linked to the Coca Cola company.
The proposal is for up to three loads a day (six trips), six days a week from 7am to 6pm.
Mr Hallam’s development application (DA) states the plan would not impact on the environment or agricultural land use for the former grazing property that he’s transformed into a picturesque garden retreat.
The local planning controls, the DA says, also permit, with consent, its use as a ‘water bottling facility’ under current zoning.
But neighbours say potential impacts on the area’s underground water supply have not been addressed in the DA.
And the heavy truck movements on the rural road, they say, will spell the end of the quiet country road.
In his submission, Mr Hallam’s consultant states that as the existing bore is currently licensed by the state, ‘there does not appear to be a need for any further permits/approvals from any state government body, and therefore the proposal is not integrated development’.
Mr Hallam, 74, who entered NSW parliament as a 29-year-old rice farmer from the Riverina in 1973 and retired almost 19 years later, bought the Uki property and spent years converting the former grazing block into his dream retirement home and English garden, with a mix of native and exotic trees and shrubs.
The meeting today will be held opposite the Uki Sporting Horse Grounds.
To view the DA visit the Tweed Shire Council website at http://s1.tweed.nsw.gov.au/Pages/XC.Track/SearchApplication.aspx?id=723499