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Byron Shire
February 8, 2023

Ex minister withdraws Uki water-extraction plan

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Water, water everywhere (and every drop for drink): Former NSW agriculture minister Jack Hallam pictured some years ago at his Uki property where he plans to establish a bore-water extraction facility for bulk transport to a giant soft-drinks bottler.
Former NSW agriculture minister Jack Hallam pictured some years ago at his Uki property. His plan for a bore-water extraction facility has been withdrawn, following a public protest meeting last week.

By Luis Feliu

A controversial plan by a former state agriculture minister to extract millions of lires of water a year from a licensed bore on his Uki property and truck it for bottling has been withdrawn.

Word spread fast around the tight-knit village this week after Tweed Shire Council confirmed the withdrawal in its weekly newsletter.

Scores of residents voiced their concerns over the plan, involving up to six semi-trailer truck movements a day, six days a week, from 7am to 6pm, at a public meeting near the property last week.

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 and has since transformed it into an attractive garden feature for the area.

In October Mr Hallam’s 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’.

Mr Hallam is yet to respond to an offer for comment on the withdrawal.

(See our previous story at https://www.echo.net.au/2016/11/ex-ministers-water-extraction-plan-riles-uki-locals/)

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  1. If the plan was for 25 megalitres a year then the claimed number of semitrailer movements is clearly rubbish! What is wrong with bottling 25 megalitres of water s year? Why is there no one protesting about all the (hundreds if not thousands) of other northern rivers landholders using this much water and more every year for commercial purposes? Northern rivers people / “greenies” can be very hypocritical and this is a good example of this

  2. The application was re-submitted on 21 December.

    The specifics of the truck movements on a quiet rural road contained within the application are:

    Three extractions per day, pumped into 15 metre long semi-trailer tankers – that is six movements of semi-trailers negotiating 3.5 klm of narrow road with tight bends, plus two one-lane bridges, per day. Six days per week, 50 weeks a year. Uki Primary School is on this road.

    Is it hypocritical to object? Industrial water extraction licences can cover food production, mining, aquaculture, feedlots, piggeries, poultry farms, golf/sporting areas and snow making etc. No-one is complaining about extracting from a shared water resource. Irrigation and domestic bore licences are commonplace in rural areas.

    However, no hydrological or environmental studies, site inspection or justification for the 25 megalitres of irrigation, for a “garden”, were submitted when the industrial licence was granted ten years ago, with no requirement to notify neighbours.

    No hydrological studies were performed to accompany the D.A. to Council to sell 24 of those megalitres. The industrial licence was amended some years ago include to the words “water bottling”. No on-site bottling facility has been built, nor are there any plans for this. The water is to be trucked to Queensland for bottling.

  3. Farmers downstream are already having trouble watering stock from the creek given we are experiencing one of the driest years in over 40 years, what effect will this water extraction have on water levels in the creek? This water extraction operation will have zero economic benefit for the area. I’m disgusted that the Tweed Shire Council has approved a development that benefits no one but the owner, a former politician already on a substantial taxpayer funded pension.


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