CONCERN: Protesters gather outside Tweed Shire Council chambers today, rallying against a water extraction development application.
CONCERN: Protesters gather outside Tweed Shire Council chambers today, rallying against a water extraction development application. Scott Powick

Water extraction business approved despite community outrage

UPDATE 6.45PM 

AN ANGRY public gallery frustrated with Tweed Shire Council are calling for some councillors to be voted out after approving a controversial plan to extract thousands of litres of water annually from a Uki property.

During tonight's council meeting councillors rejected 4-3 a rescission motion lodged by Mayor Katie Milne that aimed to delay the development application to extract 24 megalitres water annually from a Rowlands Creek Rd property, near Uki. 

About 100 people had gathered ahead of the meeting to protest against the application, lodged by former NSW Labor Minister Jack Hallam, because of fears for road safety and the potential impacts to surrounding aquifers. 

Crs Milne, Chris Cherry and Ron Cooper called for council to allow more time to assess the impacts of water extraction, after a hydrology report submitted by Tweed Water Alliance questioned future water security if the DA was approved. 

 

PROTEST: Uki community members gather outside Tweed Council Chamber in protest of water extraction.
PROTEST: Uki community members gather outside Tweed Council Chamber in protest of water extraction. Scott Powick

But it was Labor Cr Reece Byrnes' support for the application that caused the public gallery to erupt in anger, with many yelling the words "shame" and "vote them out" after the decision was made. 

Cr Byrnes, who has come under fire for his support of the application, said he would continue to support the staff recommendation to approve the DA. 

"The facts are in the report," Cr Byrnes said. 

"We've had so many numerous workshops over this debate and there are councillors who are failing to accept the advice.

"If a person was going to have a business that drains the whole aquifer, where's the sense in that?"

Cr Milne said she was disappointed council wasn't going to conduct further independent assessments on the water extraction industry to address community concerns.

"One of our primary jobs is to keep our community safe and I don't think the community would be out here tonight if this was just something they were taking lightly," she said. 

"We have a legal obligation. We have been advised that we must be sure that water extraction is not going to impact on the natural eco-systems. 

"We haven't had any opportunity to get any information back from Primary industries. We are left in limbo. We don't know who to believe - the applicant's report or the review by the community."

EARLIER 5.30PM:

PROTESTERS angry over a decision to support a controversial water extraction business at Uki rallied on the steps of Tweed Shire Council today, urging councillors to reconsider their support of the development application.

More than 100 people gathered on the steps of Council Chambers in Murwillumbah, ahead of tonight's meeting where councillors will debate a rescission motion on the development application by former state Labor minister Jack Hallam to extract 24 megalitres water annually from his Rowlands Creek Rd property near Uki.

Last month, council approved the plans by four votes to three, after Labor Councillor Reece Byrnes supported the application.

Speaking during community access, Rowlands Creek Rd resident Greg Dixon told councillors he was worried about the implications to road safety if the application was approved.

"We the community don't have any confidence the recommendation will ever be sufficient for these truck movements," Mr Dixon said.

"It's our view that someone will be injured or killed along Rowlands Creek Rd if this application is allowed to proceed."

Rowlands Creek Rd resident Tara Ali told the Tweed Daily News she didn't hold any faith in the hydrology report supplied in the development application.

"They don't have the scientific evidence if water extraction is safe," Ms Ali said.

"But the hydrology report commissioned by the Tweed Water Alliance showed it's something that shouldn't be happening."

Councillors will be making a final decision on the DA at tonight's meeting.

More to come.



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