Cudgen farmland 'protected for a reason'
BUILDING the Tweed Valley Hospital on State Significant Farmland during the state's worst drought in more than a decade has been criticised by Primary Industries Shadow Minister Mick Veitch.
Mr Veitch, who flew in from Sydney to inspect the site at Cudgen, said the State Significant Farmland had been "protected for a reason".
"It doesn't get listed as State Significant unless it's something special, in the middle of a drought we have to preserve farmland, it doesn't make sense to me to put such a big facility on some really special red soil," he said.
"We need farmland to feed the population, this isn't just farmland, it has been protected for a reason and you can grow anything here, the value of these soils as farmland is a critical aspect that should be given consideration to."
The Tweed Daily News reported last week that this July was the fifth-driest on record for NSW and the seventh straight month of below average rainfall for the state.
It has been the driest January to July period since 1965 with 100 per cent of NSW now officially in drought.
State Labor candidate for Tweed Craig Elliot said he did not believe work on the hospital would begin before the state election in March.
"The time frames to do studies around traffic, ecological and environmental impacts and all the things that come with designing hard infrastructure, there's just not enough time," he said.
"A Labor government will build a new public hospital at Kings Forest, we'll build it better, faster and on budget while protecting State Significant Farmland.
"It's a no-brainer, we've got people in local jobs working the land, it's just in the wrong location."
Tweed MP Geoff Provest has previously said work would be "well underway" before the next election.
Relocate Tweed Valley Hospital spokesperson Hayley Paddon said the current Tweed Hospital had "700,000 people" move through it each year.
"That worries us as farmers," she said.
"How are we going to farm with more than 700,000 people accessing this site, that's impossible."
She said the group now had 3000 signatures on a petition to have the issue heard in Parliament.
Mrs Paddon said four members of the Relocate group sat in the audience of ABC's Q&A in Lismore on Monday and passed the petition around with "great success".