Opponents of water mining in the Tweed shire have released a report showing alleged chronic and serious breaches of development approvals at four water mining operations.
The report formed the basis of a story on the ABC’s 7.30 program last night, which will air again on the ABC’s Landline program on Sunday.
The Tweed Water Alliance has also presented a petition with more than 1,200 signatures to the Tweed Shire Council in an effort to stop a proposal by Mt Warning Spring Water and Black Mount water transport company to allow 55 tonne B-Doubles to travel along Kyogle Road through Uki and Murwillumbah.
TWA spokesman Jeremy Tager said that the monitoring and enforcement of conditions by the NSW Office of Water and Tweed Shire Council were non-existent and reports of breaches constant, ‘so we decided we needed to find out the truth of the various breach allegations we received from the community’.
‘It was far worse than we expected. The attitude of the industry appears to be, ‘We can do whatever we want’. In one case, an operator continued to run almost double the number of permitted trucks even as he is litigating against Council for daring to turn down a massive expansion of his water mining operation.
Mr Tager said even when breaches had been identified NSW Office of Water has never imposed a penalty and Tweed Shire Council has imposed a fine twice .
‘The TWA’s investigation was motivated in part by the fact that this is a lose lose industry. It provides no benefit – not jobs or revenue – to the Shire, but ruins amenity, gives our roads a pounding, threatens to take water from the world heritage rainforests that surround us and ends up in plastic bottles that are part of what is one of the world’s worst waste issues.
‘The industry comprehensively fails the most basic public interest test.
‘The Tweed Water Alliance is calling for a full investigation by NSW Office of Water and Tweed Shire Council using the strong investigative powers they have.
‘If water theft is proved, licence must be cancelled and any ill-gotten profits repaid. Our water must remain in the Tweed for the benefit of its residents and environment.
Meanwhile, the TWA has called on the Tweed Shire Council to ‘listen to the voices of residents’ and reject a proposal to allow 55 tonne B-Doubles on local roads.
A Tweed Shire Council spokesperson said the petition was presented to councillors at its March 22 meeting.*
She said the council would not be making comment on the 7.30 story as there was a court case pending.
*A previous version of this story correctly quoted a Tweed Shire Council as saying the petition would be presented next month. We have since been advised that it was presented at the March 23 council meeting, a day after the story was originally published.