By Luis Feliu
Tweed Shire Council is set to call on the state government to ban water extraction and bottling on rural land in the shire, where a dozen sites are approved or in the pipeline for such commercial activity.
The controversial issue of water extraction and bottling in the Tweed Valley has come to a head with shire planners recommending councillors next week approve the prohibition proposal for the state planning department to consider.
Last month, council resolved to take action and prepare the planning proposal, with a report called for detailing the current development applications (DAs) in relation to this land use.
Planners also recommended council supports the inclusion of a ‘savings clause’ to enable a decision to be made on two current undetermined DAs.
Planning staff say in their report for next week that extraction and bottling of water was a permitted with consent in the rural zones within the Tweed Local Environmental Plan 1987 and 2000.
But the land use became prohibited with the introduction of the Tweed LEP 2014 ‘due to changed definitions provided within the standardised template issued by the NSW Government for all local environmental plans across the State’.
‘This caused a situation where ongoing water extraction/bottling sites were not able to secure a long term feasibility of their businesses, particularly within the context of any proposed expansion or redevelopment,’ planners say.
‘To mitigate this undesired impact, Tweed Shire Council prepared a planning proposal PP15/0004 (finalised by a publication on the NSW legislative website in July 2016, as LEP amendment No 16), seeking amendment to the Tweed LEP 2014 to re-instate the permissibility of water extraction and bottling in rural zones.
‘Throughout the preparation and public exhibition of this planning proposal, concerns about conflicting land uses and impacts on existing farms were raised and this resulted in the removal of RU1 Primary Production zoning from the scope of the planning proposal, permitting water extraction/bottling on land zoned RU2 Rural Landscape only.
‘Following gazettal of the LEP Amendment No 16 facilitating water extraction/bottling on land in RU2 Rural Landscape zoning, four (4) development applications have been lodged with Council with two (2) of them related with ongoing operators and two (2) for new sites.’
Since 1987, water bottling and extraction has been approved at 10 locations around the valley.
Planners also warned that ’given the previous support by the Department of Planning for inclusion of water extraction and bottling as a permitted use within the RU2 Rural Landscape zone, an attempt to prohibit this land use will have to be strongly justified and assessed against current local, regional and state planning and environmental planning framework and may not be supported by the department of planning’.
Planners say the status of some of the facilities, particularly those assessed by council in 1990s, is unknown.
‘For example land at 1-11 Rivendell Drive, Tweed Heads South is now a site of bulky goods showroom and sale with “Production and distribution of bulk water supplies” land use being discontinued. Two sites have applications with Council and their status registered as “Further Information Requested”, being land at 350 Rowlands Creek Road, Rowlands Creek and a site at Dungay Road in Dungay,’ they said.
For details of the DAs for extraction and bottling facilities around the valley, see page 390 on the next council agenda (http://www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/Controls/Meetings/Documents/PlanningAgenda7December2017.pdf)