Locals protest against Tweed water mining
ENVIRONMENTALISTS in the Tweed are reaching boiling point because the council has not shut down the four operational water mines in the shire.
They will stage a protest outside Tweed Shire Council's Murwillumbah office on Monday as representative of two anti-water mining groups meet with Green mayor Katie Milne and council officers.
This comes two weeks after activists blocked water trucks from a water mining business and a protest at a council meeting last month when a development was approved.
Tensions are also being raised with almost weekly protests about the decision to build the $534 million Tweed Valley Hospital on Cudgen Road.
Cr Milne was at the hospital protest on Monday and has also protested against water mining in the Tweed.
The council is investigating noncompliance of three water extraction businesses and is waiting on legal advice before taking action on the third.
Northern Rivers Guardians spokesman Scott Sledge said he believed the council was not going to come down hard on these businesses.
"We have been getting signals that Tweed Shire Council is not eager to enforce the rules on water miners," he said.
"Council staff are said to be frightened to take on commercial interests because costs of taking legal action can be expensive."
Legal action between the Karlos family's water mining business, 25 minutes drive southwest of Coolangatta on Urliup Rd, and the council finished two weeks ago.
The Karlos family have been extracting water from the property for 13 years and trucking it to Queensland to be bottled.
Their request to council to use larger trucks was refused last year.
The appeal was dismissed in the Land and Environment Court after the judge found he didn't have jurisdiction on the matter.
In his decision paper, the Justice Tim Moore noted Mr Karlos' current council development permit allowed for 5 megalitres to be extracted a year despite the business having a 60 megalitre licence from NSW Water.
Mr Karlos said this was a reason the environmentalists were going after him, but the problem was caused by the council.
He lodged a new development application last week to increase the council permit to 28.5 mega litres a year.
"It is just because there are two government departments who aren't on the same page," he said.
Mr Karlos said his and the other water mining business were being targeted because of ideology against water mining, not noncompliance.
"People are jumping all over this stuff but there is one common denominator for all of this, Tweed Shire Council," he said.