DA for water extraction proposal withdrawn by applicant
A DEVELOPMENT application for increased water extraction at a Rous property has been withdrawn before being voted upon by Ballina Shire Council.
A DA for the proposed increase from 62 megalitres per year - that's already approved for on-site blueberry irrigation at the Ellis Rd property - to 100 megalitres, was first lodged with the council last September.
The council received a large number of submissions, including criticism of plans to remove the extra water from the property for commercial bottling.
But the application was withdrawn on Monday.
Among those who opposed this was the group Save Alstonville Aquifer.
Spokesman Michael Hogan said the group was "very happy that it's been withdrawn”.
"We will continue to make sure water mining is not accepted in the Alstonville aquifer and we'll support other areas that have the same issue,” Mr Hogan said.
"We see it as an extractive industry. We also see it as a finite resource.”
Ballina's deputy mayor Eoin Johnston said he'd not seen one issue so "impactful” in terms of the mass of community feedback during his time on council.
Cr Johnston said there'd been extensive political interest in addressing concerns about the broader issue of water extraction.
"There's a lot of feeling about it,” Cr Johnston said.
He welcomed the news the DA had been withdrawn, saying a key concern about the proposal was the planned removal of water from the plateau.
"(Farmers) have a right to use the water on the plateau,” he said.
"This (proposal) was taking water, not using it on the plateau, taking it away for bottling.”
He also felt the council approving a plan to extract groundwater for bottling was at odds with the shire's own efforts to lobby against single-use plastic bags.
Mayor David Wright said he felt the withdrawal was "fantastic news”.
"What we'll be pressing for now is some ... protective legislation because it's a drought at the moment,” Cr Wright said.
"Water is precious and I think people are starting to realise it's more precious as time goes on.
"Like CSG locked out (it would be good) if we can get water extraction locked out too because it's not infinite supply.”
It's unclear whether the proponent, Tim Carey of Black Mount Spring Water, has any plans to submit an alternate DA, but he has been approached for comment.
Rous County Council last week raised a motion calling for clear water extraction policy at the Local Governmenr NSW Conference.
The Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer is yet to release its final report into the broader issue of water extraction industries on the Northern Rivers.