The Tweed Water Alliance (TWA) has called for one of the Shire’s water extraction permits to be cancelled after what the group alleges are multiple ongoing breaches.
Nobby’s Creek landowner Gary Appleby has a permit from the Office of Water to extract 38 megalitres from his property for bottling.
But that amount was reduced on review by Tweed Shire Council to 12 megalitres, with an additional qualification that any bulk water removals should be transported in trucks of five tonnes or less, owing to the state of the access roads.
However photographs have come to light clearly depicting b-double tankers on the narrow approach to Mr Appleby’s property, which TWA spokesperson Jeremy Tager says are ‘ripping up Bryens Road’.
Mr Tager estimates each tanker is 10 times the permissible size, adding they are a daily occurrence on the narrow, winding roads.
In addition, he says a bulk water supply valve accessed by the trucks and two large supply tanks on the site are unapproved works.
‘Even modifications to the driveway and the approach to the water supply valve do not appear to have approval,’ Mr Tager said.
Bottling plant closed?
He commented that the operation had originally been established to bottle spring water onsite, but the group suspects this is no longer happening, with the owner relying on bulk water sales instead.
‘While the Tweed Water Alliance is aware that investigations of unlawful activity by water miners are underway by both Council and the new water regulator, these breaches are blatant, indisputable and ongoing. We have conclusive photographic evidence,’ he said.
‘No investigation is needed to determine that the size and frequency of trucks are not permitted; no investigation – except a simple site visit – is needed to show regulators that the infrastructure being used has never been permitted. These breaches cannot continue to be ignored.’
Mr Tager said the operation should be ‘shut down immediately and all unlawful infrastructure removed’.
‘We want a clear message sent to operators that compliance is mandatory and will be enforced.
‘When lawless operations aren’t brought to account, it breeds more lawless behaviour. While all the water miners in Tweed Shire ignore their conditions of consent, Nobby’s Creek is the most blatant of a bad lot,’ he said.