Tweed mayor Katie Milne has called on residents to ‘have patience’ while the council sorts out the best way to deal with the plethora of issues it faces in relation to the snowballing problem of water mining in the Shire.
But Tweed Water Alliance (TWA) spokesperson Jeremy Tager has reacted angrily to the call, describing Council’s responses to water mining breaches as ‘pathetic’.
Cr Milne, said while many in the community wanted Council to take immediate compliance action, there were ‘legal and statutory processes which needed to be followed’.
‘We are attempting to establish a legally firm and fiscally responsible basis for any required compliance actions,’ Cr Milne said.
‘I want to reassure the community that we are taking their concerns about truck movements and extraction quantities very seriously and we are working through the issues.’
But Council has resolved to take no action for historic breaches by Pristine Water Supplies at 10-20 Edwards Lane Kynnumboon from 2006/2007 ‘given the cooperative response Council has had to the alleged breaches,’ a Council media release said.
Council instead will write to Pristine Water Supplies ‘reinforcing the need for compliance with all conditions of the consent and request reporting for the last seven years as required by…its DA’.
Pristine Water Supplies boast on their website that they are ‘exclusive suppliers to the top water bottling companies in Australia’.
Regarding two other bottled water suppliers at Kyogle Road, Kunghur, and Bryens Road, Nobbys Creek, the Council media release says the owners of both sites have undertaken to lodge applications ‘to regularise any inconsistencies with their current operations and their relevant development consents’.
It also states Council is awaiting advice from its solicitors, on ‘the interpretation on conditions of consent, and whether or not there is a case to take more immediate compliance action on these two matters’.
And in a fourth case – that of the Karlos family, who last week lost a court case against Council over the terms of their conditions – the media release says ‘officers are currently seeking advice from Council’s solicitors on their review of the Land and Environment Court judgement, and to verify the accuracy of a proposed order of compliance, prior to it being issued’.
But TWA spokesperson Jeremy Tager is damning of the mayor’s call for calm.
‘After seven months of at best ineffectual, at worst non-existent, investigations [Council] reveals it will not take any enforcement action against Mount Warning Spring Water or the operation at Nobbys Creek,’ he said.
He added that Council’s claim that, ‘owners of both sites have undertaken to lodge applications to regularise any inconsistencies with their current operations’ translates to ‘the water miners will lodge another development application, we’ll approve it and it will make everything legal’.
‘This is appalling. It’s retrospectively fixing something that should never have happened. Council is trying to weasel out of its responsibilities,’ said Mr Tager.’
‘These aren’t inconsistencies; these are lawless acts.
‘Citizens don’t get to break the law then apply for it to be fixed. It doesn’t happen with theft, it doesn’t happen with traffic offences, it doesn’t happen with the Council’s own building code. We are subject to the rule of law but these corporate lawbreakers aren’t.’
‘This sad attempt to convince residents that our council is acting on our behalf is going to make residents angrier. Why should we accept one set of laws for us and no law for others?’
‘Water mining should be shut down. Completely’