Kevin Skinner
Kevin Skinner

Byrrill Creek Dam to double size

TWEED Shire councillors are set to more than double the planned size of the controversial Byrrill Creek Dam, despite growing protests over the scheme.

Tweed Mayor Kevin Skinner yesterday confirmed he would put a motion to the next council meeting on Tuesday week to opt for a 36,000-megalitre dam in preference to the previously mooted 16,300ml plan.

Either plan will still need Federal or State government approval, and the NSW Government earlier this week axed plans for a dam at Tillegra in the Hunter Valley to meet the future water needs of Newcastle and the NSW Central Coast.

“If you are going to get knocked over, you may as well get knocked over for the big one rather than a small one,” said Cr Skinner, who has previously used his casting vote to push through proposals for a dam at Byrrill Creek rather than raising the wall of the existing 16,000ml Clarrie Hall Dam.

Cr Skinner said if he had been around when that dam was built in 1983, he would have gone for a larger one then.

“I would have wanted to build it as big as I could,” he said.

“It’s the economy of scale when it comes to building these things, rather than build a small one and have to come back in 50 years and top it.”

Cr Skinner is expected to get the support of Cr Phil Youngblutt and Cr Warren Polglase in opting for the larger proposal – enough to enable him to use his casting vote, with Cr Joan van Lieshout unable to vote because her husband owns large tracts of land that would be affected.

Cr Polglase said he also believed if the council was to pursue a new dam, it should “build a big dam”.

“It’s not a lot more money to go to that additional size,” he said.

“I support going for the bigger size because you are only going to build the dam once.”

Opponents of any new dam at Byrrill Creek have been doubling their efforts to have the plan scuttled.

Spokeswoman Joanna Gardner said councillors had not scientifically justified their choice, and opponents were taking hope from the State Government’s decision to axe the planned Tillegra dam.

“An independent review of Tillegra pointed to a need to reassess the principles, figures, and economic and environmental costings,” she said.

“Tweed Council is repeating this scenario and will not agree to, or fund, an independent review.

“Petition signatures against the dam have reached 5000 in just three weeks.”

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