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Bid to boost trucks for Tweed water-mining business

The water extraction and bottling plant site at 477 Urliup Road. Operators want to boost the size of the current delivery trucks used from six metres to 19 metres long, which has raised the ire of neighbours. Image Tweed Shire Council

The water extraction and bottling plant site at 477 Urliup Road. Operators want to boost the size of the current delivery trucks used from six metres to 19 metres long, which has raised the ire of neighbours. Image Tweed Shire Council

By Luis Feliu

The expansion of controversial water mining in the Tweed looks set to draw further flak, with an extraction and bottling business at rural Bilambil pushing to treble the size of delivery trucks currently used from six metres to 19 metres long.

The mineral-water and bottling operation at 477 Urliup Road, approved 13 years ago, is much larger than the proposed controversial bore-water extraction and transport development plan by a former state agriculture minister for Rowlands Creek Road, Uki, currently being assessed by council planners.

Both the Urliup business, run by longtime Tweed business identities the Karlos family, and the Uki proposal by former Labor minister Jack Hallam, have stirred community unrest and opposition.

Tweed shire councillors next Thursday will consider a request from the Urliup operators to change their consent conditions to allow for the much larger trucks as well as a proposal to upgrade the road at their own expense to accommodate them.

Council’s chief planner Vince Connell has also asked councillors for direction on whether there is a sufficient ‘nexus’ or link between the plan to increase the size of the already-approved six-metre truck to 19 metres (with deliveries set at six or 12 trips a day) to justify the extent of the upgrade works being proposed given the rural road’s current condition.

‘Both the applicant and Council staff agree that some work needs to be done to Urliup Road to make it safe for a 19m truck and other road users however what is in dispute is the level of work being required and who should be required to fund these works,’ Mr Connell said in his report.

‘The applicant is arguing that the road is in such a poor state of repair that their proposed improvements are more than adequate to accommodate the development being proposed.

‘The applicant is therefore asking council to fund any additional difference beyond $260,230 worth of road works required in council’s opinion to upgrade the road to council satisfaction.’

But the issue could come to a head in the courts, with the developer baulking at council’s repeated request for detailed information on the road upgrade plan which staff say is needed to make a proper assessment of the impacts of the development.

Mr Connell says that ’in determining the necessary standard for the upgrade works, it is appropriate to ensure that adequate design, certification, risk assessment and mitigation is undertaken by the developer to protect the public interest, and accordingly additional information is still being sought’.

Detail sought includes plans for batter slopes, pavement designs, road widening  at particular bends and the impact on ecology.

‘The applicant (the Karlos family) on the other hand is of the opinion that council has requested enough of them and that they have more than satisfied their obligations given that they are proposing to upgrade council’s infrastructure at their own personal expense.

‘The applicant has indicated that any further additional information or work being requested should now be provided by Tweed Shire Council.’

In his report, Mr Connell said the proposal during the first round of public notification drew 25 objection letters, while the second round of public notification attracted 65 objection letters and 34 letters of support.

‘What is in dispute is the level of work being required and who should be required to fund these works,’ he said.

‘The applicant is arguing that the road is in such a poor state of repair that their proposed improvements are more than adequate to accommodate the development being proposed.

‘The applicant is therefore asking council to fund any additional difference beyond $260,230 worth of road works required in council’s opinion to upgrade the road to Council satisfaction.’

The Karlos property of 14 hectares has a 110-metre frontage to Urliup Road.
In a recent response to council, the applicant L Karlos wrote that historically the industry had changed in that ‘for some time now, 19 meter trucks have been the standard particularly in Victoria’.
Mr Karlos said their own delivery contractor didn’t use six-metre trucks ‘as they are not financially viable’.

His letter continued:

‘Without approval for 19 meter trucks, our business will die.
‘Since we have been restricted to 6 meter trucks, we have suffered immensely
financially. The massive pay cut in cents per litre is half of what we would be paid using the 19 meter trucks.
‘Combine this with council restrictions of being able to offload a maximum amount of less than half of what we are lawfully allowed to extract by the NSW office of water and around 100k in bills for various reports and other requests from council which have taken over a year to put together and we are seriously looking at financial ruin without 19 meter truck approval.
‘I don’t think I can make that point clear enough. I have been personally needing to go and do labouring at my age with an old family friend Robert Dawes just to be able to pay household bills and afford groceries.
‘These 6 meter trucks have drastically slashed our family’s income at a time we have been required to put together the material and reports which have sent overheads with no return through the roof.
‘All this has also made our financial contribution to the Aboriginal community suffer as well. We are the only source of water to Waddi Springs. Something we have been doing for many years.
‘We are a good environmentally friendly, hard working family business in the Tweed Shire who have in good faith, spent close to 100k and over a year in time to go above and beyond what the Tweed Shire Council has asked of us (with reference to material attached to B&P surveys app on our behalf) among other works.
‘My son resigned his full time career as an airline captain and position training pilots for the airline he worked at for the past 8 years in Perth to return here just to make dealing with all this his full time job.
‘I would like to emphasise the fact that this application has nothing to do with increasing the capacity of what we are already entitled to under our commercial licenses issued by the NSW Office of Water.’

 


2 responses to “Bid to boost trucks for Tweed water-mining business”

  1. serena ballerina says:

    Urliup Road could not handle that size truck, surely! Nor that tiny concrete causeway over the creek.
    What’s the answer? Who funds the road upgrade?

  2. Al Surfnut says:

    What is the problem? TSC has treated Urliup road as a joke for 40 years. The signage put around properties is also illegal in the rules of election signs.

    The real issue is people who buy water in plastic bottles. If we consumed the perfectly good water supplied by the best filtration system in the state, there would not be water extraction. Put the argument in context. Urliup road goes to Tomewin road. It is a rural goat track. Also the most beautiful scenic local drive in the shire. So what if TSC has to pay for improvement? They get tourists, business gets business, people get a decent road.

    I also ask what happened to the resurfacing to bitumen of school bus routes? Have we let NSW Govt off the hook?

    If you drink water from plastic bottles, have a look at yourself, as you drive the water extraction business. One bottle, drives this entire business enterprise. your bottle. And I bet you don’t know, the bottle ends up in the ocean after you throw it out on Urliup Road. And all over the country. If you did not create the demand for bottled water, there would be no bottled water. Think before you throw a stone at a glass house.

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