The unanimous support of the Tweed Shire councillors for the planning proposal to remove the enabling clause for water bottling from our Local Environment Plan (LEP) is to be commended.
However, the initial recommendation for approval, at the previous meeting, was stopped in its tracks by a letter from the Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer (CS&E) just 25 minutes before the meeting.
On review of the letter and the Tweed Council staff report to councillors the Chief Scientist’s letter is simply bizarre and makes no sense. The staff report to councillors provided a very fair and reasonable overview (pros/cons) on the findings of the CS&E review of the impacts of the bottle water industry on groundwater resources in the Tweed Shire. Also it had satisfied the conditions issued under the Gateway Determination.
The issuing of the CS&E letter at the last tick of the clock smacks of political interference.
Contrary to what some may claim there is no escaping the findings of the CS&E’s review of the impacts of the bottled water industry on groundwater resources. The Tweed’s groundwater systems are complex and there is a lack of data and analysis of local hydro-geology, therefore the impacts of groundwater extraction are difficult to measure or understand at this point.
Thus, the importance of the precautionary principle being applied in this case when the science is not yet in. Longer version on Echonetdaily: www.echo.net.au.