The appeal by Larry Karlos against the Tweed Shire Council’s refusal to modify consent conditions for his water extraction business, to both increase the level of water extraction and the size of trucks transporting the water for bottling, have been dismissed by the Land and Environment Court (LEC).
Mr Karlos was granted water extraction rights in 2003 in relation to his commercial water extraction business in Urliup Road, Bilambil. Since that time he has continued to develop the site without council approval installing infrastructure and extra bores that were able to increase the quantity of water being extracted from the site.
The original approval consent had allowed for the extraction of five megalitres of water per year. According to the judgement of Justice Moore ‘At the present time, at six loads of a six-metre truck per day, every day, with such a vehicle holding approximately 13,000 litres of water, Mr Karlos’s annual water extraction would be approximately 28.5 megalitres.’
Mr Karlos who currently uses six-metre long rigid tanker vehicles to transport the water to the bottling facility in Queensland, sought to increase that to allow the use of 19-metre long articulated vehicles.
‘If the present proposed vehicle size modification was to be approved, the maximum annual volume physically able to be extracted, if only the vehicle size and movement restrictions were taken into account, would be 65.7 megalitres,’ stated Moore’s Judgement.
The Justice Moore dismissed the appeal based on the fact that the amendments sought to the original development consent would not ‘if modified, be substantially the same as the development original approved’.
According to Jeremy Tiger from Tweed Water Alliance, ‘The Court laid out in stark detail the unlawful nature of the current operation. It is [potentially] taking too much water, and using infrastructure that was never approved, including his pumping station, water tanks and turning area. These unlawful activities have been occurring since the operation began in 2003.
‘The Court’s decision means that councillors will now consider – again – whether to bring enforcement proceedings against the operators,’ said Mr Tager.
‘Enforcement proceedings must begin. There is really no excuse for councillors not to uphold the law – as they are legally required to do. The infrastructure that isn’t authorised must be removed and the operation must cease.
‘Additionally, the Tweed Water Alliance wants to see substantial penalties imposed on the operators for these significant breaches and the money used for community projects in Bilambil.
‘He has been getting away with lawless behaviour for years at the expense of the community. They deserve something in recognition of what they’ve been through.’
The dismissed appeal was discussed by councillors last night during a closed session of Tweed Shire Council.
Vince Connell, Tweed Council’s planning and regulation officer told Echonetdaily, ‘That Council in regard to the current compliance investigations into the water extraction activities being carried out on the premises No. 477 Urliup Road, Urliup, continues to follow legal advice in pursuing regularisation and compliance of the water extraction activity.
‘In accordance with this resolution, Council officers are currently seeking advice from Council’s solicitors on their review of the LEC judgement, and to verify the accuracy of the proposed Order, prior to it being issued.’
Protest to protect our water
The newly formed Water Dragons group, set up to protect the water in our region, will be holding their first protest this Saturday at the Uki Markets from 10am. If you are interested in getting involved in protecting your local water supply from exploitation you can find out more online via the Tweed Water Alliance or The Water Dargons Facebook page.