WATER WOES: Protesters against water mining attend the Land and Environment Court site inspection of the Karlos property on Urliup Rd, Bilambil, on Thursday.
WATER WOES: Protesters against water mining attend the Land and Environment Court site inspection of the Karlos property on Urliup Rd, Bilambil, on Thursday. Contributed

Tweed water extraction fight in spotlight again

THE debate over water extraction in the Tweed is heating up again as an application for larger water trucks is appealed in the Land and Environment Court.

Tweed Shire Council in May 2017 rejected a development application lodged by the Karlos family, who operate a water extraction company from their Urliup Rd property at Bilambil, that sought to increase the company's current use of 6m water transport trucks to the requested 19m trucks.

Currently the applicant, Larry Karlos, has consent to use 6m trucks for a maximum of six deliveries a day, or 12 trips per day, to transport water for commercial purposes from his Urliup Rd property.

The Karlos family appealed the rejection in the New South Wales Land and Environment Court, with the case being heard this week onsite and in Sydney.

Tweed Water Alliance spokesman Jeremy Tager said about 100 people gathered at the Urliup Rd property for the court site inspection on Thursday.

"It was a show of support of the residents of Urliup Rd who have been traumatised by this particular operation for over a decade,” Mr Tager said.

A 55 tonne B-Double truck.
LEFT: A 55-tonne B-double truck spotted travelling along Kyogle Rd. Contributed

"The road was lined with cars for hundreds of metres.”

Mr Tager said the community did not want 19m trucks travelling along Urliup Rd due to fears for pedestrian and driver safety.

"It's not a road that should be allowed to have 19m trucks on it, even if it's broadened,” Mr Tager said.

"When we were leaving (Urliup Rd), we came across two people riding horses and a mother with her pram and the only place for them to walk is on the road.”

Urliup Rd resident Kim Daniels said she was worried for the safety of local children if 19m trucks were approved.

"I have a little boy who is on the school bus, which has come into confrontation with these trucks before, even with 6m trucks,” Ms Daniels said. "They are putting our children in danger.”

But Matthew Karlos, the son of landowner Larry Karlos, told Tweed Daily News he was confident in the court making the right decision.

"I'm fairly confident that common sense will prevail and a rural business in a rural area on a rural road will not only grow but be encouraged to survive,” MrKarlos said.

"We have a lot more confidence in the court than the incompetence and bias of the Tweed Shire Council. We're just going through the process of the court.”

Mr Karlos said he believed the LEC would take several months to hand down its decision on the appeal.

The water extraction debate was pushed into the national spotlight this week with the ABC's 7.30 Report investigating the dispute between Tweed Water Alliance and the Karlos family.

Mr Tager said the report was "a bit softer” than TWA had hoped for, especially after it had released an extensive report calling for an investigation into "serious breaches” of several Tweed properties that extract water.

"The attitude of the industry appears to be 'we can do whatever we want',” he said.

"TWA is calling for a full investigation by the NSW Office of Water and Tweed Shire Council using the strong investigative powers they have. If water theft is proved, licence must be cancelled and any ill-gotten profits repaid. Our water must remain in the Tweed for the benefit of its residents and environment.”