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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

Tweed water mine rescission motion loses 4–3

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Around 100 protestors made their point before council ignored them by voting 4–3, to reject Mayor Katie Milne’s rescission motion in regards to the September vote, where the majority of Tweed Shire councillors gave the thumbs up to a water mining operation at Rowlands Creek.

Councillor Katie Milne moved that a DA for a bulk loading/delivery of extracted water and roadworks at Rowlands Creek Road be deferred for several reasons including that NSW Water’s response to the pumping study was a brief email, not a formal review.

She asked that council seek additional consideration and hydrological testing from the applicant as outlined in a report by Professor Peter Cook (Potential Impact of Groundwater Pumping on Rowlands Creek) and that a suitably qualified university review the applicant’s report and subsequent response as well as NSW Water’s response and Professor Cook’s reports.

The motion also argued that the costings of road damage (referred to in the report but not provided) be publicly released; that the Rowlands Creek / Kyogle Roads intersection problem (which has been acknowledged and considered by the applicant’s traffic engineers but remains unresolved) should be referred to an independent expert for an opinion on the best practice approach; that council refer the problem of the Rowlands Creek Road / Mitchell Street intersection to the same independent expert for opinion on a best practice solution; and, that Council staff report whether they have investigated previously claimed discrepancies in the road width on the straight close to Uki – if not, to do so and if the Bitzios report is incorrect propose appropriate corrective measures.

The motion also asked that council seek independent legal advice on whether its public interest assessment meets Council and other legal obligations.

The 4–3 vote went Crs Cherry, Cooper and Milne for the rescission, and Cs Byrne, Polglase, Allsop and Owen against.

Cr Milne told Echonetdaily that this is not the end of the issue as far as she and council are concerned. ‘The developer has to gain final sign-off from councillors that the roadworks required are properly completed before he can commence operations,’ said Ms Milne.

‘There is another application in the system for Dungay, the court judgement for the Urliup expansion, and numerous applications for amendments required to rectify non-compliances of other existing operators as well as whatever else comes in.’

The mayor added that some of her greatest concerns include the safety of local residents, the impact on Rowlands Creek, the viability of the State Significant Farmlands adjacent, and the viability of locals’ stock and domestic water bores as well as the enormous costs expected for residents for these ongoing road repairs.

The Tweed Water Alliance submitted a hydrology report which suggested the water mining should not go ahead yet council still voted to go ahead. Ms Milne says the report was unequivocal and absolutely convincing. ‘It was done by one of the world’s leading groundwater scientists. There are always councillors who put development before the community. Unfortunately the Labor councillor joined them this time.

‘This is an issue that affects the whole community across the Shire. Apart from the water security issues, I’m sure our residents and pensioners would not be keen on subsidising ongoing road damage from these heavy trucks.’

Ms Milne says she doesn’t believe the community is going to accept this in any way. ‘This community is famous for sustained and effective protest throughout history. That is why the Northern Rivers is still so beautiful. The community are mobilising. The community has a democratic right to protest and I would never discourage that great tradition.’

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  1. The Tweed community just had a massive rally outside Deaf Geoffs office.
    While hundreds chanted outside with passing cars hooting their horns in support.
    Geoff cowered elsewhere too ashamed to show his face in front of all the media camera’s and respond to the demands of what were a broad section of the community.
    With many former National party base voters appalled by his, “I don’t give a $%#%, the Nat’s have done a land rezoning you can all get stuffed attitude”.
    Come election time in March, you can expect the Tweed to give you back the same behaviour you have given them?
    He can certainly expect far more than the 18.5% swing against him he received last election.

  2. This is absolutely outrageous that invested parties can mine and effectively steal the communities water supply and in the process cost them money and ruin their peaceful enjoyment of their properties.
    When the last rivers have dried and the entire country is in drought, is it only then when councils and governments will realise the error of their ways by allowing profiting companies to ruin our environment. Enough is enough.

  3. Let them step out of line once and bangem into the Land and Environment Court,

    Do they have the ability to comply with the terms of their consent…

  4. Still a lot of questions to be answered by councillors if favour of this… water project I believe in Karma and I am sure it will boomerang on these non listeners

  5. I look forward to the day when the only people who are consulted about these sort of issues are the Indigenous custodians of country and that these custodians have been acknowledged , empowered , and respected. Whose country is this ? This is the most important question to be considered in Australia, at all levels . Whose country is this? and who has the legal right to make these decisions . ? Not these people that is for sure. YOurs sincerely Josephine Beams

  6. Following Labor Cr. Byrnes’ disgraceful sell out of the people of Tweed Shire to profit a Labor associate, ask yourself this question. How could any sensible voter possibly view the Labor party as the lesser of two evils in 21st century Australia??

  7. Disgraceful. Stealing our natural resources. Water is precious and belongs to us all.
    Not there for the profit of some.

  8. I recall the Uki meeting shortly after the last Council election. Over 100 concerned and angry citizens gathered to discuss how to respond to the development application of former NSW Labor Agriculture Minister Jack Hallam. Labor Councillor Byrnes didn’t attend. I also recall Cr Byrnes’ public comment around that time that there is no scientific evidence that water mining will affect underground water supplies. How can he make an informed decision on this issue when he has failed to appease the concerns of the people he is supposed to represent and ignores the findings of an independent hydrology report? Has he been given a directive from the Labor Party to support the former Labor Minister’s application?

  9. There is an application to raise the wall of Clarrie Hall Dam because the community and council need the water for. development. That wall has to be paid for by the community and Council and maybe the state government. The people also pay water rates for the water to be pumped out of the Dam and to be purified and sent to their homes,
    But if the water comes from the water table underneath the ground, Council and the community don’t get any money for removing that water by a private person or company? Why is that?
    If the substance was gold or coal then that belongs to the State Government
    There is so much water in Clarrie Hall Dam, that the water in the Dam has to be connected to the water table. It has to be because that water would be millions or billions of tonnes. So if you take water out of the ground, being the water table, is it not the same as taking water out of the Dam. But if the people use the water out of the Dam via a pipeline then the people have to pay for it with water rates.
    There is an anomaly surely here that Council cannot see.


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