Water mining concerns raised in NSW
There are calls this week for an inquiry into the commercial extraction of water from the New South Wales Northern Rivers.
Nationals MPs Thomas George and Ben Franklin want the NSW Government to instruct chief scientist Hugh Durrant-Whyte to conduct a full and independent inquiry into the water mining industry.
Mr George wants a total moratorium on any new commercial water licences for off-farm use until the proposed inquiry is complete.
He said he has been convinced by concerns about the impact on the water table.
“There's also a lot of concern being expressed to me about water being taken off-site for processing,” he said.
“This is an issue [and] we're calling on the government to stop issuing water licences where that will happen.
“The Chief Scientist needs to be able to look into this and reassure the community and the users of what can be done to satisfy everyone's concerns.”
Greens candidate for Lismore and former Environmental Defender's Office (EDO) NSW chief Sue Higginson says an inquiry is not needed.
“What we really need at the moment is for our councils to have planning powers over water mining,” she said.
“What we've seen is in the Tweed. We've seen Tweed Shire Council now apply for those planning powers to amend to its own Local Environmental Plan to have control over water mining in its LGA and it's been denied that from the NSW Department of Planning.
“What we need is the direction and leadership to support our councils so they can just prohibit this type of development.”
Mr George is meeting with the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Water, Niall Blair, next Monday.
Greens MP Tamara Smith also wants a state-wide ban on water mining.
“The Greens are very concerned about water mining full stop [and] extractive industries like this particularly this close to the coast,” she told the ABC.
“We've been mostly focussed on spring water [so] this bore water is a whole new ball game and to me, it is absolutely next level concern because we're talking about our aquifers and our farmers rely on that.
“As we move into warmer and warmer years, water is becoming the new gold and we should be doing everything we can to protect it.”
“Next week I'll be doing a speech on the floor condemning the National Party for even considering giving a licence to extract bore water, it's a new low.”