Residents say Cobaki sewage project stinks
ONE of Australia's richest men has part of the picturesque Piggabeen Valley community crying foul over his proposal to build a sewage treatment plant for a major Tweed development.
Bob Ell, who ranks 23 on the Forbes Australia rich list with an estimated wealth of $1.26 billion, is behind the Cobaki Estate development, a mixed residential and commercial project tipped to house up to 12,000 people near the NSW-Queensland border.
The local community has been aware of the pending development for many years but the addition of a sewage treatment plant only came about after a golf driving range across the road from the estate was bought for $1.23 million last October, according to website realestate.com.au/.
Leslie Jordan, one resident opposed to the project, said the facility would be out of place in its rural surrounds.
She claimed it would ruin outlooks for nearby residents and cause the value of their properties to plummet.
"I love where I live,” she said. "I've lived here for a long time.
"People say my land's valuable but it's just home to me, and being privately run, if (the plant) isn't up to standard at any point and not run properly it could produce noise and an awful odour and spoil where I have wanted to live until I die.”
A Leda Holdings spokesman said the decision to build a private facility to service the estate was made in April 2016 and that the proposed site had been "carefully selected so it could be screened from surrounding properties, roads and vantage points”.
"It is (also) an essential component in securing an operator's licence that the community is not disadvantaged by the outlook of any buildings or structures, odour issues, operating noise, traffic movements,” the spokesman said.
"It should also be noted that the land upon where the WWTP is proposed is not prone to flooding as per the council's flood control maps.”
Tweed Shire Council will not assess the proposal, with the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) tasked with determining whether to grant Northern Water Solution, on behalf of Mr Ell's Leda, a licence for the waste water treatment plant and reticulation network.
But the council did make a submission to IPART as part of the consultation process.
David Oxenham, the council's director of engineering, said works had already been undertaken on the council's own water and wastewater infrastructure to cater for pending projects, including the Cobaki development, but he could not say how much had been spent.
He added that the "council would more than likely have delayed some works” if it knew Cobaki was to be serviced by a private water and wastewater operator.
Bernadette and Tony Vincent, who operate a wedding venue near the proposed project, are also part of a group of locals concerned.
"(We) would suggest that if the sewage plant was to be located on a less conspicuous site on Leda's current enormous site there would be no (or less) concerns from local businesses and residents,” they wrote in a submission to IPART.
"We are not opposed to new developments and are all in favour of a cleaner and greener environment,” they added. "We do however feel that the proposed site for this sewerage treatment plant (meters away from our home and business) is not suitable or acceptable.
"We have invested our all into this property and the impact of this development could potentially ruin us emotionally and financially.”
The Leda spokesman said there were no allowances for "any suitable site for a Waste Water Treatment Plant” within the Cobaki estate, which was why the facility had been proposed on an adjoining block.
He said once licensed,"NWS would be responsible for the supply of drinking water, sewerage services and providing quality recycled water back to the home owners in the new Cobaki development project.
"That recycled water will be suitable for laundry washing, toilet flushing, gardens and for other things such as outdoor washing of cars and homes,” he said.
"This recycled water will also be provided at no charge for irrigating the Cobaki project's sporting fields and community gardens.”