Further calls to investigate water extraction industry
NSW Country Labor and the Greens are calling on the State Government for a review into the commercial water extraction industry.
The requests come a day after the Nationals candidate for Lismore Austin Curtin called for an independent investigation into the water extraction industry.
In a joint statement posted on the social media accounts of Labor candidates Craig Elliot (Tweed), Asren Pugh (Ballina) and Janelle Saffin (Lismore), the three candidates called for "Northern Rivers Local Government Councils to suspend the granting of future Development Applications for commercial water extraction enterprises”.
"Labor in Government will hold a Parliamentary Review into the licensing of commercial water extraction to ensure such activity is sustainable and to address community concerns,” the social media post stated.
"We urge the Berejiklian - Barilaro NSW Government to commit to a comprehensive review of the granting of water extraction licences and specifically the impact on our water table and aquifers.”
The joint statement also called for councils to "remove special clauses in the Local Environment Plan until a full review of the science of water extraction is held.
"Council's primary responsibility is to deal with truck movements, but the water extraction licensing system is run by NSW Water,” the social media post stated.
"That's why we are calling on local councils to hit the pause button on any future development applications involving water extraction for bottling, or where applicable, remove the clause from their LEP.”
Meanwhile, Greens Candidate for Lismore Sue Higginson has gone one step further and requested the Planning Minister gives local councils power to regulate and prohibit water mining.
"It is good that Lismore MP Thomas George has responded to the community's concerns about water mining, but his response is completely non-strategic and lacks understanding of the problem of water mining and the laws that apply to it,” Ms Higginson said.
"If Mr George had his eye on the ball he would know that Tweed Shire Council has been seeking local planning powers from his government to prohibit water mining in its Local Government Area for many months now and it has been denied. This is what needs to be done and could have been done months ago.
"Instead, we now have runaway water mining in the Tweed and it is now expanding in the Ballina Shire.
"If Mr George really wants to protect our groundwater for its best use and stop the expansion of the industry he would take real action and make his government give councils the planning and development control powers they need.
"We should be providing certainty about the type of development we want in the Northern Rivers and we do that through our planning and development laws.
"While I think any scientific inquiry into better understanding our groundwater resources is good, in this circumstance it is likely to prove to be a waste of time and money.”
The debate over water extraction has been a prominent talking point in Tweed Shire Council over the past two years, with several applications landing council in the Land and Environment Court over the decision to reject an applicant's requests to increase truck movements.
This decision by Country Labor comes weeks after Labor Tweed Shire Councillor Reece Byrnes used his casting vote to approve an application by former NSW Labor minister Jack Hallam to start extracting 24 megalitres annually from his Uki property.