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Byron Shire
May 10, 2021

Uki water mining operation approved 

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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. His plans for a bulk water operation and transport facility have been approved by Tweed Shire Council. File photo

Hans Lovejoy

A majority of Tweed Shire councillors voted last week to allow a former Labor MP to operate a water mining operation, which would see a maximum extraction volume of 24 megalitres (roughly ten Olympic sized swiming pools) per year.

The contentious development application (DA) from Jack Hallam has seen strong opposition from residents and is located 4.4km south of Uki on Rowlands Creek Road.

According to the agenda minutes, the ‘bulk loading/delivery of extracted water and roadworks’ DA was supported by Crs Warren Polglase, James Owen, Pryce Allsop, Reece Byrnes, while mayor Katie Milne, Crs Chris Cherry and Ron Cooper were against.

While there are strict consent conditions on the development, a rescission motion was lodged from councillors Milne, Cherry and Cooper. The rescission motion will be dealt with at the planning committee meeting of October 4.

Report ignored

Resident Jeremy Tager claims a report supplied to councillors, called the Potential Impact of Groundwater Pumping on Rowlands Creek, was ignored.

Tager says, ‘It directly contradicts the conclusions of the pumping study and makes it clear that Council cannot be satisfied that there will be no adverse impacts.

‘These findings were ignored.’

The Echo asked Labor councillor Reece Byrne if that claim was correct, and if so, ‘Why was this report not considered?’

Instead, Byrne told The Echo, ‘The matter of water licensing and water extraction activities remains a responsibility of the NSW state government, as Council’s role is limited to essentially the approval of truck movements on our local roads.’

The Echo also asked Byrne, ‘Why do you support this DA? Do you consider Mr Hallam, a former ALP minister, a personal friend? Is there a conflict of interest in this vote – and if not, why not?’

He replied ‘The advice from Tweed Shire Council engineers and planners recommended approval for this application and I supported their clear evidence-based advice.

‘Shared political views do not constitute a conflict of interest and I continue to act with utmost integrity in all my duties as an elected official of the Tweed Shire.’


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  1. Much of the information supplied to council was not considered or was inaccurate. Mr Hallam’s proposed “Water Mine ” is over a fractured aquafer and between Rowlands Creek and Chowan Creek. It is most likely that his pumping from his bore will seasonally affect the flow of these creeks which originate in the Mount Jerusalem National Park. This was stated clearly in a report made by ex CSIRO hydrologist Peter Cook. This could have a substantion effect on local farms, wild life and eco systems and water sources.
    Councillors should not make their final decisions until an independent hydrology report is undertaken.
    Cr. BYRNES, stated publicly in the newspapers that he would base his decision on “the Scientific facts”. How can he if he is not completely informed.
    Rowlands Creek is not designed to take large trucks, due to blind corners and one lane bridges. There are also considerable land slippages along this road. The road is going to be a money pit into which tax payers rates will be poured.
    The councillors who have voted for Mr. Hallam’s application are ignoring the more than 300 written protests by local residence, who are fully cogniscent of the danger of the large tankers.
    Why are counscillors still supporting an application which advatages only one person and disadvatages everyone else. The water under Mr Hallam’s property belongs to the environment. Such aquafers contribute to why the Tweed Shire appears green, while the rest of Australia is in drought. I truely belive that history will judge Mr Hallam, and those councillors who did not protect our water sources very harshly in the future. Councillors you have been voted in to represent the people not one man’s greed. Please do not allow this selfish industry to continue.
    Mr. Hallam wil be making $250 for every truck that leaves his property, while the rest of us in the Rowlands Creek and Chowan Creek valleys may be forced to buy water to survive.

    • Well said Pamela. This activity must be stopped immediately. The damage to our environment will be incalculable if water mining is allowed to continue. We cannot let the greed of a few dictate to the rest of us. And we shouldn’t let our democratically elected local government get away with lies and nepotism. Media needs to continue to highlight the effects of water mining on the environment as well as councillors role in facilitating this industry and its well documented illegal claims and conduct. A submission to ICAC will be next.

  2. The most corrupt Government I can remember in my 55 years on this planet, our co systems are already on the brink of collapse, to letca individual profit from exploiting our pristine water is corrupt on so many levels, John Pilgers book mates springs to mind, these politicians, ex politicians and there corrupt mates should be jailed or made to perform community service repairing the massive damages they are commuting against us and the natural world.

  3. There is no doubt in my mind that Councillor Byrnes is looking after the old boy of the party (Jack Hallam). He is totally wrong (and he knows it) when he claims that the issue of the impact of taking 24 million litres of water out of the ground and sending it off to be bottled is solely the responsibility of the Office of Water. This is false. Council’s own solicitors have agreed that Councillors, when considering this application need to be “ satisfied that development will not have an adverse impact on natural water systems or the potential agricultural use of the land”. The solicitors agree that Council have a higher threshold of responsibility than the Office of Water. Councillor Byrnes is well aware of this fact and yet he continues to claim it’s not his responsibility. It bloody well is and he is shirking his responsibilities.The smell of nepotism is strong in the Council chambers. He failed to declare a perceived conflict of interest before the vote. The people of Uki won’t forget this immoral behaviour.

  4. They are abusing aboriginal lands councils legislation, as joint ventures, because aboriginal lands councils have no responsibility of public disclosure but have the same legal authority as a municipal shire council , like the Tweed …..so developers do deals with the lands council and state government and the greater community are disspossed…and it makes it very easy for a former state minister to do a deal with the former chairman of the Tweed Byron Lands Council when that chairman is a Tweed Valley water miner himself …and look at the awards the government showers on his company https://www.yaruwater.com/about/ https://www.tweeddailynews.com.au/news/aboriginal-spiritual-water-in-bottles/1881286/


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