A TOWN meeting to discuss several water extraction projects across the Tweed Valley took place at the Uki Hall on Thursday, January 19.
The meeting attracted more than 150 people from Urliup Road, Rowlands Creek Road, Uki locals and Councillors Ron Cooper, Cr Pryce Allsop, Deputy Mayor Cr Chris Cherry and Gary Bagnall.
The meeting started with speakers Bruce Ray and Trevor White who outlined the development application at Rowlands Creek Road to extract more than 24 megalitres from his property bore.
The speakers offered the microphone to people for questions and comments, residents were also encouraged to write letters and emails to Tweed Shire Council opposing the development application with the window to submit closing February 1.
Residents offered a range of passionate views from questions over road conditions on Dungay Creek Road, Urliup Road and the lower end of Urliup Road.
Terence Manning a local truck driver was an invited speaker on the night and has decades of trucking experience locally.
Mr Manning said the impacts on Rowlands Creek Road would be “significant” and questioned the road weight limits.
The meeting also attracted many people with previous experiences including several from Urliup that shared their knowledge and discussed what they said was now known as “water mining”.
Jeremy of Uki said he found the recent submission to extract the water at Jack Hallam’s property “woeful” and questioned the future of Tweed’s water resources.
The development application to Council was also later questioned around boundary constraints at Mr Hallam’s property and in particular the impact from trucks on the local roads and the community.
“I also have strong concerns about there being no mention of Climate Change and the serious risk of losing a future water source,” he said.
Lucy at Dungay Creek Road, Dungay said she was shocked by the “systems turning water into a commodity”.
“If the water dries up these companies will not give a damn,” she said.
“Our road is facing seriously dangerous conditions and our groundwater is at risk.”
Noel Blair said he had concerns about water levels and whether NSW Water had accurate measurements to justify the extraction.
“There’s no metering and no way of knowing – we need more information and knowledge before we take more,” he said.
The group agreed the community needed to: “fight like hell and don’t give up.”
Councillor Ron Cooper offered the room a reminder of the strong chance for the community to lose a case if taken to court.
“When I first started campaigning for the No High Rise group I got out there and found as many people as I could to sign a petition,” he said.
“This was the start and I’ve achieved more than 14,000 signatures and growing.”
Cr Cooper said this was the start of a way to leverage the State Government to bend to the will of the people.
“You need to get Thomas George and Geoff Provest to listen and that’s your way of circumventing the courts.”
Former Tweed Shire Councillor Gary Bagnall also offered the group advice including previous encounters with water extraction development applications.
“The previous council passed a motion allowing the extraction and bottling of water anywhere across the shire to return to the Tweed Valley which has opened up this opportunity,” he said.
“It was only Katie Milne and I who stood against the motion.”
Mr Bagnall also offered an answer to a difficult question around what would happen if the application was denied.
“But had been recommended for approval by council administration, would the approval be considered by the Land and Environment Court?”
“It could be considered and could make it more difficult to fight,” he said.
The community spirit was strong within the hall and the passion to fight on has ignited a fire in many Tweed residents, who are now demanding answers over water mining.