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July 7, 2022

Expert says ‘it’s reasonable to rule the Dunoon Dam option out’

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During last week’s Rous County Council (RCC) meeting, Cr Big Rob spoke of contact he had with Professor Stuart White regarding the proposed Dunoon Dam.

Professor White is the Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS in Sydney where he leads a team of researchers who create change towards sustainable futures through independent, project-based research.

With over thirty years experience in sustainability research, Professor White’s work focuses on achieving sustainability outcomes at least cost for a range of government, industry and community clients across Australia and internationally.

The Echo spoke to Professor White who made a late video submission to Rous that missed the deadline. A representative of Rous said it was too late to be screened in public access and was ‘forwarded to all Councillors on the morning of the Council meeting for their info’. The rep also, mistakenly, thought the video was a submission from the Northern Rivers Water Alliance who already had a space in Public Access.

Rous County Council meeting

During the meeting Cr Rob did not give Councillors all of the information he received from Professor White.

At the meeting, Cr Rob said: ‘I circulated an email overnight relating to the experts that have been relied on – Professor Stuart White for example. You know, his position was the cost and when I made inquiries with Professor White, he finally agreed that yes, that dam should be considered. So if you take the cost out of it, then his position [is] all options on the table, the dam must be considered because that is one of the options.’

The Echo asked Professor White about his conversation with Cr Rob because Cr Rob’s comments seemed to be at odds with the information Professor White has been giving to other interested parties.

‘I have not spoken to Cr Big Rob,’ said Professor White. ‘I only had email correspondence.

‘My position on the Dunoon Dam is clear and I’ve been public about it: it is too expensive, too risky, not useful for the purpose it is intended for, and not needed within the planning horizon. This is before considering the environmental and Aboriginal heritage risks.’

Time to rule out dam

Professor White said that this does not mean the Dunoon Dam, or any supply option should not be considered and investigated alongside other options. ‘It is just that under any reasonable analysis it would be rejected. The proponents have already had a chance to make their case, at great public expense, and my view is that this case has not been made, so it is now reasonable to rule the Dunoon Dam option out.’

‘My understanding of the decision by Rous last year was to reject it primarily due to the Aboriginal heritage considerations, which are of course very important and remain very important.’

The Echo does not know if any Rous Councillors saw this submission before they voted 6 to 2 to put the dam back on the table.


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21 COMMENTS

  1. Cr rob is looking more and more like a dishonest and nasty little man desperate to destroy our culture for his own agenda, with reasoning like, ignore the huge cost, cultural damage, science and professional advice behind rejecting the dam, and the dam’s back on the table, the motivations of these Cr’s is very questionable.

    With Professor White saying, ‘My position on the Dunoon Dam is clear and I’ve been public about it: it is too expensive, too risky, not useful for the purpose it is intended for, and not needed within the planning horizon. This is before considering the environmental and Aboriginal heritage risks.’, these are pretty clear words to ignore and brush over, it’s not really looking after our interests I would say.

  2. Professor White is perfectly clear that he does not believe a second dam on Rocky Creek is a good idea.

    Anyone who tries to twist his words to claim a different meaning, and who continues to push for this destructive, outdated and risky option is obviously driven by ideology rather than what is best for our community.

    • Pushing for either building the dam or not building the dam is acting out of ideology at this time Nan – the ideology that considering the whole-of-life-cycle CO2 emissions of the various options, as part of the process of considering the options, is not important and the community can make an informed decision about this without that info that is critical in a climate emergency.

      As one of those who clearly has acted out of this ideology, I ask you why? When did you decide that climate change was not really important enough to be considered, and the relevant CO2 footprints calculated, when weighing up the community options on this?

      Do note that your guru here, that you assert that people must take the advice of on every aspect of the proposed dam, does not seem to have mentioned this

  3. Well, they’ve had plenty of other opportunities to pay attention to Stuart White before now, and all the rigorous evidence gathered around the decision last year has been available for these new councillors to read and listen and inform themselves, as we should expect all our representatives to do. If they haven’t informed themselves rigorously of all the facts then they shouldn’t be representing us. If they genuinely inform themselves and still choose to ignore the expertise for personal political benefit then that is clearly dishonourable. But this is where we as citizens have a duty to be properly informed ourselves, so that we are less likely to vote for people who may pretend to have the community’s interests at heart, but really are just on a personal mission of power-seeking.

  4. Too risky,stupid place to put 2nd dam,has already been considered and rous has said no,it has been on the table and rous decided to take it off,leave it off

  5. I would hope that Cr Rob has not run interference on the Professor.
    That would not be in keeping with his mantra of council ‘accountability’ on all matters.

  6. Dam water needs filtering too.
    Just set up it’s filtering station to handle poo water as well “Just in case” of extreme conditions.
    It’s never been an either/or situation.

  7. The “ISF” logo says it all, really.
    With all this heavy pressure on the RCC committee NOT to reconsider this proposed dam, I wonder how Rocky Creek Dam ever got built in 1954 !
    Oh, I forgot, we don’t need that either – do we.

    • Yes Rob, it’s no longer 1954, but the dam proponents seem stuck in that mindset of 70 years ago where they won’t consider anything else irrespective of impacts.
      Rocky Creek dam was virtually the only option back then, but isn’t now.
      And we know so much more about natural & cultural heritage management & protection, & have messed up the environment so much more since then, & know so much more about the impacts of those actions that all remnants are valuable, & so many now have additional legislative protection because they are now Endangered Ecological Communities. Even koalas are now Endangered. …. did you ever think that would happen in your lifetime?
      Furthermore your sarcastic ‘ “ISF” logo says it all really’ comment, yes it does say it all…. it’s ALL about a Sustainable Future, something the dam mob & the LNP can’t seem to grasp, but really it’s not a hard concept, most of us get it, just look it up, perhaps read a book?

  8. Fans of the dam , such as Crs Cadwallader and Rob, have done the community a great disservice with misinformation and misinterpretation of the “All Options on the Table” concept. To consider all options reasonably is not the same as endless wishful thinking and revision.
    Cluttering the table with options that have been considered and found unfit is a recipe for distraction and procrastination. It is the opposite of good planning and leadership, and is wasteful of time and money.
    Rous County Council has known for a decade that the dam was problematic, yet allowed it to displace sensible development of alternative sources of additional capacity, including serious water efficiency.
    The previous council looked at the evidence with due process, and made the right decision for our water security, by finally removing the dam from its plan.
    Professor White is only one of many experts who say the dam is a bad idea. Apparently ratepayers will have to foot the bill for more time-wasting studies in order for some on the new council to save face, backtrack, and finally agree.

  9. Rous has been totally rolled by a well organised pressure group.
    If nothing else this is a statutory example of what happens when you have a light -weight, easily manipulated bunch of yokels, with no expertise or knowledge appointed to a board , and then assailed by a dedicated and well practised pressure group, with no consideration for the practicalities of infrastructure supply.
    Without a doubt the easiest and most cost effective source of water is a dam. There is no coincidence that this is the choice of the huge majority of communities throughout the world . This is not to say there aren’t problems associated with dam construction but it is still the most effective and cheapest.
    Water saving strategies are commendable, desalination is nonsense and pollutes the ocean, as well as the environment however it is powered. If these entities were serious , the obvious starting point is to ban all use of the reticulated supply for industry and agriculture. I notice this is not on the table , instead we have historic tales of burial sites and secret propaganda submissions from Professor White before the vote. These clandestine tactics have been effective, but offer nothing to the democratic process in determining the correct way to proceed.
    Think about it, G”)

    • Ken, do you know what the whole-of-life-cycle (100 year) CO2 footprint of the various options would be?

      Because if you don’t you can’t say what would be the most (CO2 footprint) cost effective option – and should not be calling for a decision to be made.

    • Mind boggling & offensive conclusions Ken!
      Starting with your description of the previous RCC as “light-weight, easily manipulated bunch of yokels with no expertise or knowledge”. Are you aware of the qualifications and experience of the former members of RCC, compared with its’ current membership? If so, it’s laughable you can come to that conclusion.
      “clandestine tactics”? WTF? since when did cultural heritage reports (mandatory under both state & commonwealth legislation), sustainability experts, and best practice water security measures become “clandestine”? That’s simply moronic & demonstrates a low level of comprehension & your rejection of reality.
      As for “the democratic process in determining the best way to proceed”…..so now you want to vote whether or not to build a dam that has already been rejected by water and sustainability experts, together with virtually insurmountable legislative hurdles? Do you realise the role of local councils and the RCC – and now up to the state government – is to determine these things, and we’ve already voted at local and state government elections at least twice since this issue was raised? Bizarre in the extreme.

  10. The buck now stops with us! The messaging, feeling, & beliefs were wrong.
    & we knew it. Cr Rob must have known all would catch up with him.

  11. Has Stuart White outlined what the CO2 footprint of all of the proposed/considered options over a 100 year timeframe would be? (Or referred to someone else doing so)

    I have not seen that he has done so, or that anyone is prepared to do so, and no option can sensibly be ruled out without this information. Except by people who either don’t accept that we are in a climate emergency or don’t care to respond to it.

    Sadly, it seems that virtually everybody discussing this falls into one of those two groups – which is damning indictment of how dysfunctional the northern rivers community has become

    • Activated Carbon is made from trees. It needs lots of coal to reactivate it. It can only be reused a certain amount of times before you have to cut more trees down.
      The more contaminated the water, the faster you have to replace the activated carbon.
      Build a dam and use Roman cement. It soaks up CO2 for centuries as it continues to harden for a thousand years.

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