Not happy: Dam protesters outside Tuesday’s council meeting.
Not happy: Dam protesters outside Tuesday’s council meeting.

Byrrill Creek Dam 'a loser'

LONG-TIME former mayor Max Boyd, who headed Tweed Shire Council when it bought hundreds of hectares at Byrrill Creek for a future dam, says councillors have made a mistake in pushing ahead with the dam.

“I think they are backing a loser,” said the retired veteran councillor of 44 years who was shire president and mayor for 18, and later a council administrator for three years after the sacking of elected councillors in 2005.

“The days of getting approvals to build dams are almost all in the past.

“My choice would have been to raise the Clarrie Hall Dam wall.”

On Tuesday current mayor Kevin Skinner used his casting vote to push ahead with the controversial Byrrill Creek Dam west of Mt Warning despite protests that it would affect a number of residents and destroy an important environmental area.

Mr Boyd said the spillway of the Clarrie Hall Dam had to be widened and the wall strengthened to meet current government standards and the work could have been carried out in conjunction with raising the wall.

“That’s a job that’s got to be done,” he said.

“It’s considered susceptible to a massive downpour of rain as are other dams around the state.”

Mr Boyd said much of the land for the proposed dam was bought by the council from the mid-1980s onwards “as a precautionary thing that was done back in an era when dams were being built”.

“In many ways it’s a good thing council did buy the land and protected the resource for the future if it’s ever needed,” he said.

“It backs on to national park and it’s an ideal catchment area for a dam if that eventuality was reached.”

However Mr Boyd said he believed “in ensuring we don’t overpopulate”.

“I’m a great believer in having a policy where you relate the population you can sustain to the amount of water that can be depended on in the very worst conditions,” he said.

“I liken it to a farmer’s decision on how many cattle he can carry on his farm.”

At Tuesday’s council meeting the director of community and natural resources David Oxenham warned councillors who were keen to double the catchment area for Tweed’s water supply by pushing ahead with a second dam that the benefits would be reduced.

He said that was because new state government regulations would require a greater “environmental flow” to be released to the Tweed River from any new dam.

Those rules he said would not apply to raising the wall on an existing dam.

The council currently owns 1100 hectares at Byrrill Creek, with about 700 used as a hardwood plantation.

It was acquired after the family of the late Gold Coast developer Alfred Grant decided to sell a large property where he based his racehorse stables, at the time the largest single landholding on the Tweed.

The council later bought other surrounding properties.



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