Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Quarry Solutions fined $15,000 for operating without an environment protection licence at Woodburn

Woodburn quarry site
https://seegroup.com.au/woodburn-quarry/

NSW EPA, media release, 20 Marxh 2020: 

Quarry Solutions fined for operating without environment protection licence

The Environment Protection Authority has fined North Coast company Quarry Solutions Pty Ltd $15,000 for allegedly operating without an environment protection licence. 

Director Regulatory Operations, Regional North Karen Marler said that records obtained by the NSW EPA indicate that Quarry Solutions allegedly extracted more material than is permitted without a licence at the Doonbah Quarry near Woodburn and Evans Head in 2018. 

“Quarry Solutions hold eight extractive activity licences with the EPA for works at other quarries and are therefore aware of licensing requirements. Furthermore, they were issued two Official Cautions in 2016 for the same offence. 

“While no environmental harm was caused by the company’s actions, it is important to obtain a licence to ensure environmental safeguards can be maintained and to ensure there is a level playing field for quarry operators,” Mrs Marler said. 

Quarry Solutions now has an environment protection licence in place for works at the Doonbah Quarry. 

In considering its regulatory approach the EPA took into account factors including that Quarry Solutions cooperated with the EPA and that no environmental harm occurred and also that the company had received two Official Cautions for the same offence. 

Quarries can extract smaller amounts up to 30,000 tonnes that produce lower potential environmental impacts without needing a licence. 

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy at www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm

NOTE:

Quarry Solutions, part of the family-owned SEE Group, is a specialised quarrying and construction materials production company. Since 2008 it has owned and operated quarries under various arrangements in northern New South Wales and south east Queensland.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Topsoil loss during 2020 flooding in the Clarence Valley


The Daily Examiner, 9 March 2020:

Anyone travelling around the recent flood-affected areas of the Valley, including along the Clarence River itself, couldn’t fail to notice the chocolate brown colour of those floodwaters.

The Orara River was particularly bad, and after the floodwaters had receded, council needed to use a front end loader to scrape thick layers of deposited mud off some roadways and bridges. The paddocks alongside creeks were likewise buried beneath a thick layer of mud.

This was always to be expected if torrential rain occurred soon after the bushfires, especially with ash washing off the bare ground into waterways.

But these floods brought more than ash. This was topsoil, something that is in short supply across much of the Australian continent. We are told that globally, some 24 billion tonnes of topsoil are lost annually through erosion, and Australia’s contribution is shameful, given we are a supposedly developed country with sufficient resources to protect this precious commodity.

Wind and water are the two main forms of erosion.

Both can be significantly mitigated simply by maintaining a good vegetation ground cover. Without that cover there is nothing to hold the soil, and this past season has highlighted that fact.

Firstly there was drought, and overgrazing to the point where only bare soil remained, resulting in one huge dust storm after another for months on end.

Then the bushfires destroyed what vegetation the livestock had left. Then came the floods, ripping apart fragile unprotected stream banks, and washing them downstream to the ocean.

Even without bushfires we lose far too much soil to erosion, and again, poor livestock management is largely to blame.

Many Australian rivers and creeks have no adequate vegetation to buffer against erosion and fewer still are fenced to exclude cattle.

As a result, these animals congregate along waterways, trampling banks, and browsing any available vegetation, so their impact is even greater than fire.

Landowners have a responsibility to manage erosion on their properties and to consider what they are leaving for future generations. If we are to solve the erosion problem, livestock management must be a focus point.

JOHN EDWARDS, Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition

Friday, 6 March 2020

Environmental Defenders Office analysis of the new planning policy for koalas in NSW finds legal safeguards flawed


Koalas are found in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales and are particularly vulnerable following the devastating 2019-20 bushfire season.

Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), 20 February 2020:


NSW planning policy for koalas falls short of the legal safeguards needed to protect the iconic animals and their habitats. 

By Cerin Loane, Senior Policy and Law Reform Solicitor, and Rachel Walmsley, Policy and Law Reform Director, Sydney 

A new NSW SEPP – State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019 – is due to commence on 1 March 2020. With koala numbers having been in decline in NSW over the past two decades, a revised Koala SEPP had been highly anticipated as an opportunity to bolster legal protections for koalas. Frustratingly, the finalised Koala SEPP does little more than tinker around the edges. The fact remains that NSW laws fall far short of providing tangible protection for koalas. And with koala populations and their habitats significantly impacted by the summer’s devastating bushfires, it’s going to take more than just a few revisions to provide our koalas and their habitats the real legal protection they need.

The status of koalas in NSW 

Koalas are currently listed as a vulnerable threatened species in NSW, meaning there is a high risk of extinction in the medium-term.[1] Additionally, individual populations at Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens on the lower north coast, between the Tweed and Brunswick Rivers east of the Pacific Highway in the Northern Rivers area and within the Pittwater Local Government Area in northern Sydney are listed as endangered populations.[2

Accurately estimating koala numbers is difficult. Despite regulations, policies and community initiatives, overall koala numbers in NSW are in decline. In 2016, the NSW Chief Scientist relied on the figures of Adams-Hoskings et.al. in estimating approximately 36,000 koalas in NSW, representing a 26% decline over the past three koala generations (15-21 years).[3] We note however that other reports suggest koala numbers are even lower than this.[4

These estimates were made before the catastrophic bushfire events of this summer, which have been devastating for koalas, with estimates showing that more than 24% of all koala habitats in eastern NSW are within fire-affected areas.[5] Many people are asking how our environmental laws can help conserve and restore vulnerable wildlife at this time – this is something that EDO continues to look at as we start to move forward from the events of this summer (see our response to Australia’s climate emergency). 

A new state environmental planning policy is one legal tool intended to help koalas, but on our analysis the SEPP will remain largely ineffective in addressing the exacerbated threats currently facing them. It took just weeks for almost a quarter of koala habitat in NSW to be burnt in the bushfires, while it has taken the NSW Government 10 years to simply update the list of relevant koala habitat trees in the SEPP. The need for enforceable and effective laws is now more urgent than ever. 

Key changes to the NSW Koala SEPP[6

On 1 March 2020, NSW State Environmental Planning Policy No 44 – Koala Habitat Protection (SEPP 44)[7], which has been in place since 1995, will be repealed and replaced by a new State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019 (new Koala SEPP).[8] SEPP 44 will continue to apply to development applications made, but not finally determined, before 1 March 2020.[9

SEPP 44 aims to protect koalas and their habitat, but its settings are weak and not targeted at the type or scale of projects with highest impact. Additionally, the problematic definitions of core koala habitat and potential koala habitat are adopted by other legislation (including the Local Land Services Act 2013 (LLS Act) and the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act)), where they are used as a benchmark for triggering processes and regulation relating to land clearing and development assessment.[10

EDO has been calling for changes to SEPP 44 for the best part of a decade. In December 2010, EDO wrote to the Government on behalf of Friends of the Koala noting that SEPP 44 ‘is in urgent need of reform’.[11] In 2016, the Government announced a review of SEPP 44.[12] EDO made a submission on the Review of the Koala SEPP outlining our key concerns with its operation and making recommendations for improvement.[13] It wasn’t until fires began burning across the state late last year that the Government announced the release of the new Koala SEPP, just days before Christmas.

Despite recommendations that the Government consult on the text of a draft SEPP and any relevant guidelines or supporting material following its 2016 review, the final SEPP was made without any additional consultation; but it does address a number of stakeholder concerns. Most significantly, it updates the definition of ‘core koala habitat’ and removes the problematic concept of ‘potential koala habitat’, instead relying on mapping (a new Koala Development Application Map and new Site Investigation areas for Koala Plans of Management Map) to initially identify koala habitat. However, certain legal mechanisms still apply only to core koala habitat.[14

The new SEPP also updates the list of feed tree species in Schedule 2, used to help identify koala habitat, from 10 species to 123 species, categorised into 9 distinct regions. Other key changes include: 
  • Removing the requirement for site specific plans of management (in instances where a comprehensive Koala Plan of Management is not in place), instead requiring decision-makers to take into account new standard requirements in a Koala Habitat Protection Guideline. Concerningly, the Guidelines have not yet been seen, there are no formal requirements for developing the Guidelines (e.g. no requirements for community consultation or peer review) and the standards within the Guidelines are not mandatory – the new Koala SEPP requires only that they be taken into account. 
  • Moving provisions relating to how local environment plans and other planning instruments should give effect to protection to koalas from the SEPP to a new Ministerial planning direction (which is yet to be made).
Ongoing concerns 

There are also a number of key concerns that have not been addressed by the new Koala SEPP. For example: 
  • No areas of koala habitat are off-limits to clearing or offsetting – NSW laws do not prohibit the clearing of koala habitat. Despite declining koala numbers and the devastation caused by this summer’s fires, NSW laws still allow koala habitat to be cleared with approval. The new Koala SEPP simply requires decision-makers to ensure development approvals are consistent with koala plans of management (PoMs) or, if a PoM is not in place, that the (yet-to be-made) Guidelines are taken into account. If our laws are to truly protect koalas and their habitats then the approval process must not allow important koala habitat to be offset or cleared in exchange for money, in the way that the NSW Biodiversity Assessment Method does. Rather, all development that has serious or irreversible impacts on koala habitat must be refused. 
  • The requirement for councils to prepare Comprehensive Koala PoMs remains voluntary – Due to the slow uptake by councils (only 5 comprehensive PoMs have been finalised since SEPP 44 commenced in 1995),[15] EDO has previously recommended that the preparation of comprehensive koala PoMs (CKPoMs) be mandatory (i.e. the SEPP require that draft CKPoMs be prepared and exhibited within a particular timeframe). 
  • The new Koala SEPP still only applies to limited types of development – As was the case with SEPP 44, the new Koala SEPP still only applies to council-approved development. This means that the new Koala SEPP does not apply to the wide range of development and activities that can impact on koala habitat, including complying development, major projects (State significant development and State significant infrastructure), Part 5 activities (e.g. activities undertaken by public authorities) and land clearing activities requiring approval under the LLS Act. 
  • The 1 hectare requirement has not been removed – The arbitrary threshold of 1ha for triggering SEPP 44 has been carried over to the new Koala SEPP. Excluding sites below 1ha from the Koala SEPP leaves small koala habitat areas, particularly koala habitat in urban areas, without adequate protection. The 1 hectare requirement also contributes to cumulative impacts and can reduce connectivity across the landscape by allowing small patches to be cleared. 
  • Climate change considerations have been overlooked – The review of SEPP 44 provided an opportunity to incorporate requirements to identify and protect habitat and corridors that will support koalas’ resilience to more extreme heat and natural disasters, even if there is no koala population in those areas now, however there is nothing in the new Koala SEPP that specifically addresses climate change. 
  • Monitoring and compliance requirements have not improved – There are no new requirements relating to monitoring, review, reporting and compliance in the new Koala SEPP. 
The future for NSW koalas 

The new Koala SEPP highlights the overarching deficiencies in NSW laws to provide genuine protections for wildlife and nature. The way our laws are designed, very little is off limits to development or activities such as urban development, mining, and agriculture. While environmental laws provide processes for assessing environmental impacts, at the end of the day weak offsetting laws and discretionary decision-making powers allow destructive activities to go ahead to the detriment of our wildlife and natural resources. Contradictory policy settings in NSW laws mean that laws aimed at conserving biodiversity and maintaining the diversity and quality of ecosystems (such as the BC Act) are undermined by other legislation that facilitates forestry, agricultural activities and developments (such as the LLS Act, Forestry Act 2012 (Forestry Act) and Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act)). 

Many of the recent initiatives by the NSW Government to address koala conservation have focused mainly on funding and policy, without substantial legislative or regulatory reform to increase legal protections for koala populations and habitat. The new Koala SEPP is no exception. While some improvements have been made, particularly in relation to the definition of core koala habitat, overall many concerns remain and the Koala SEPP is unlikely to result in improved outcomes for koalas. 

Until our laws are strengthened to truly limit or prohibit the destruction of koala habitat, koala populations and their habitat will continue to be at risk and koala numbers will continue to decline in NSW, possibly to the point of local extinction. 

Footnotes 

[1] Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, s 4.4(3) 

[2] See www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=20300; www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=10615 and www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=10614 

[3] NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Report of the Independent Review into the Decline of Koala Populations in Key Areas of NSW, December 2016 above no 6, citing Adams-Hosking, C, McBride, M.F, Baxter, G, Burgman, M, de Villiers, D, Kavanagh, R, Lawler, I, Lunney, D, Melzer, A, Menkhorst, P, Molsher, R, et al. (2016). Use of expert knowledge to elicit population trends for the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Diversity and Distributions, 22(3), 249-262. doi: 10.1111/ddi.12400 

[4] See, for example, Paull, D., Pugh, D., Sweeney, O., Taylor, M.,Woosnam, O. and Hawes, W. Koala habitat conservation plan. An action plan for legislative change and the identification of priority koala habitat necessary to protect and enhance koala habitat and populations in New South Wales and Queensland (2019), published by WWF-Australia, Sydney, which estimates koala numbers to be in the range of 15,000 to 25,000 animals. In 2018, the Australian Koala Foundations estimates koala numbers in NSW to be between 11,555 and 16,130 animals, see www.savethekoala.com/our-work/bobs-map-%E2%80%93-koala-populations-then-and-now 

[5] See Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Understanding the impact of the 2019-20 fires, https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/parks-reserves-and-protected-areas/fire/park-recovery-and-rehabilitation/recovering-from-2019-20-fires/understanding-the-impact-of-the-2019-20-fires 

[6] See https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Policy-and-Legislation/Environment-and-Heritage/Koala-Habitat-Protection-SEPP 

[7] See https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/EPI/1995/5 (Note – This link is unlikely to work after 1 March 2020, however the former SEPP will be able to be found on the NSW legislation website under repealed EPIs (environmental planning instruments)) 

[8] See https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/EPI/2019/658 

[9] State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019, section 15 

[10] As noted earlier in our submission, for example, for the purpose of the land management regime under Part 5A of the Local Land Services Act 2013, category 2-sensitive regulated land (on which clearing is more strictly regulated) is to include ‘core koala habitat’.

[11] EDO NSW Submission on State Environmental Planning Policy No 44 – Koala Habitat, December 2010, available at https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/edonsw/pages/3547/attachments/original/1485908888/Attachment_A_-_2010_EDONSW_SEPP_44_Submission_for_FOK.pdf?1485908888 

[12] See https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Policy-and-Legislation/State-Environmental-Planning-Policies-Review/Draft-koala-habitat-protection-SEPP 

[13] See https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/edonsw/pages/3547/attachments/original/1485908884/170131_Koala_SEPP_44_Review_Submission_-_FINAL_to_DPE.pdf?1485908884 

[14] For example, under clause 9 of State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019, which applies to development on land for which no PoM is in place, the Guidelines will not apply if a suitably qualified and experienced person provides information that the land is not core koala habitat. 

[15] There are only approved plans for five council areas, and a further nine Councils who have drafted or undertaken koala habitat studies See https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/native-animals/native-animal-facts/koala/koala-conservation

IF NORTH COAST VOICES READERS WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A MODEST DONATION TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS OFFICE THEY CAN DO SO AT: 

https://www.edo.org.au/help-us-become-a-formidable-force-for-justice/

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

A new year brings old threats to the Clarence River estuary and communities along its banks


Preoccupied with major fire activity since September 2019, it was easy to miss this renewal of cruise industry pressure.....

On 4 October 2019 cruisepassenger.com.au published an article titled 
"FIVE SECRET AUSSIE PORTS YOU’LL BE SOON BE SAILING TO".

This is an extract from that article which will be of considerable interest to communities with environmental, cultural and economic concerns about cruise ships seeking entry into the Clarence River.

"Mayor Cr. Jim Simmons says “We can see a lot of economic benefits for the area…but so far we have had some community angst around the idea and that stems from our experience with large ships in the past. Our concerns are purely environmental concerns, but if that’s all covered, then the community may be very positive.

“Many years ago we had the big timber ships and large vessels coming into the sugar mill – but so far we haven’t had large passenger cruise ships,” Cr. Simmons added.

“If the ships are moored offshore, with passengers tendered in on smaller boats and all of the measures are put in place to protect the ocean environment then this would be something great for Yamba.”

The Clarence Valley mayor has obviously drunk the cruise industry Kool-Aid, if he seriously believes that cruise ships will make any significant contribution to the economies of Yamba, Iluka or Maclean.

There is enough evidence to the contrary coming from cities and towns around the world that have become cruise destinations. Specifically the fact that cruise lines inflate projections of the spending capacity of their passengers which are rarely realised, as a matter of company policy tend to poorly pay local tourism operators for services, charge local businesses a fee for inclusion in ship brochures, seek significant concessions on port fees and cruise ship activity generally tends to depress land-based tourism over time. [See https://northcoastvoices.blogspot.com/2017/11/it-is-being-suggested-to-lower-clarence.html]

As for his suggestion of mooring offshore - there is no sheltered coastline near the mouth of the Clarence River to make disembarking or boarding a cruise ship reliably risk free for passengers.

While characterising community concerns as being "purely environmental", this is a simplistic explanation given a significant Yaegl cultural/spiritual site held under Native Title lies across the entrance to the Clarence River. 
Dirrangun reef showing as a lighter blue crescent in the ocean adjacent to the breakwater walls


Monday, 21 October 2019

The Queensland white shoe brigade's fascination with destroying pristine land in the NSW Northern Rivers region continues


Echo Net Daily image of the site found at NSW EDO

In 1981 Richmond Valley Council gave consent to DA111/1988 for a four stage subdivision by Iron Gates Developments Pty Limited on environmentally sensitive land bordering the Evans River and Bundjalung National Park near Evans Head in the NSW Northern River region.

In 1991 the consent for those 610 lots was challenged in the NSW Land & Environment Court by Richmond-Evans Environmental Society Inc.

Development did not proceed that year.

In 1993 Al Oslack began litigation in the NSW Land & Environment Court seeking to overturn a Richmond Valley Council consent for Iron Gates Developments Pty Limited's 110 lot development application on the same parcel of land.

This challenge went all the way to the High Court of Australia before the consent would be successfully overturned in 1998 and site remediation ordered.

Remediation remains unrealised to date.

Allegedly unlawful land clearing occured on the site at some point before June 2014.

In 2014, Graeme Angus Ingles, former company director of the now defunct Iron Gates Pty Ltd (deregistered November 2008), lodged a fresh application to develop the site under the name of a company registered in Queensland, Goldcoral Pty Ltd trading under the business name Iron Gates Estate Evans Head.

Shares in Goldcoral are fully owned by Portcount Pty Ltd, previous to this shares were owned by Portcorp Land Pty Ltd

In 2014 Planning NSW would not consent to the development proceeding without a master plan and the application documents had to be amended.

The development application was registered with Northern Regional Planning Panel on 29 October 2014 as an 186 lot development.

This time it was Dr. David Ashley who applied to the Land & Environment Court in 2015 or 2016 seeking records of council meetings with the developer in the public interest.

Now in 2019 DA2015/0096-amended dated 23 July 2019 is before Richmond Valley Council. 
https://richmondvalley.nsw.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Appendix-2-Revised-ESCIR-23-July-2019-Appendix-A-B.pdf


This amended development application made on behalf of Goldcoral Pty Ltd by Graeme Ingles of the Ingles Group is for a 184 lot subdivision which includes 175 residential lots, 3 residue lots, 4 public reserves, 1 drainage reserve, and 1 sewer pump station lot.

The developmen is estimated to cost over $12 millionn and impacts on Lot 163 DP 831052, Lots 276 and 277 DP 755624, Crown Road Reserve between Lots 163 DP 831052 and Lot 276 DP 755724, Crown Foreshore Reserve and Iron Gates Drive, Evans Head NSW; 240 Iron Gates Drive, Evans Head.

The Queensland 'white shoe brigade' is nothing if not persistent.

BACKGROUND

The Northern Star, 2 October 2019:

A revised proposal for the subdivision of land at the controversial Iron Gates Drive in Evans Head has been lodged.
The proposal from three lots to 175 residential lots, three residue lots, four public reserves, a drainage reserve and a sewer pump station will be publicly exhibited from todayfor community feedback.
The development application was lodged by Goldcoral Pty Ltd and includes clearing work, road works, drainage, and landscaping.
The application will be on exhibition until Monday, November 18. Consent authority for the application is the Northern Regional Planning Panel.
Assessment
Richmond Valley Council general manager Vaughan Macdonald said council would wait for the assessment of a master plan by NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment before they finalised the development assessment process.
He said all enquiries regarding the master plan process should be directed to the department’s regional office in Grafton.
Mr Macdonald said the proposal also required approvals from relevant State Government agencies such as the National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Rural Fire Service.
“As with all development applications received by council, the Iron Gates proposal will undergo a full professional and technical assessment to ensure it meets relevant NSW Government legislation and planning controls,” he said.
“Following council’s assessment, a report will be compiled and forwarded to the Northern Regional Planning Panel for final determination.”
Mr Macdonald said the planning panel met on an as-needs-basis, and was unable to confirm a final determination date.
Public submissions
He said those interested in the proposal could inspect the application and support documents at council’s customer service centres in Casino and Evans Head, and on council’s website.
He said anyone could formally submit comments to support or oppose the development application during the exhibition period.
However, he said council would not consider anonymous submissions.
“For feedback on a development application to be valid, a submission must be properly made in accordance with the requirements of the Planning Act,” Mr Macdonald said.
Mr Macdonald said those providing feedback should be clear on why they were supporting or opposing the development.
State your reasons
He said council needed to understand the reasons behind your submission.
For example, if you think the type of development proposed for your area is unsuitable, you need to say why it is unsuitable – not simply that you don't like it.
It is important to focus on:
Whether the proposed use is consistent with the intent for the area
Whether the scale and design of the proposed development is compatible with surrounding development
How the development addresses the street and interfaces with adjoining properties
Any potential traffic and car parking issues associated with the development
How the development may impact on drainage patterns in the area
How the development fits with the natural environment.
Echo NetDaily, 2 February 2016:

The department of planning and environment (DoPE) has given permission for a proposed development at Evans Heads’ controversial Iron Gates site to go on public exhibition, despite a previous development on the same site being overturned by the Land and Environment Court at the eleventh hour.
The draft master plan for the subdivision would allow for 176 residential lots and four public reserves with fire trails.
DoPE says the land to be developed for residential purposes is ‘already zoned as general residential land by the Richmond Valley LEP’ and that ‘no additional residential land is proposed on the site’.
A DoPE spokesperson said the department recognised ‘the environmental and cultural value of the Evans Head site, including its location on the Evans River, its native vegetation, wetlands and rainforest, as well as the places of Aboriginal cultural significance present on the land.’
The spokesperson added that, ‘if approved, the proponent’s draft master plan would provide a guide against which future development applications can be assessed by the local council or other consent authority.’

Illegally installed infrastructure

But that’s not the view of Al Oshlack, the man who defeated an earlier proposal for the site in the Land and Environment Court 20 years ago.
As a result of that defeat, the court ordered the removal of infrastructure that it viewed had been illegally installed on the land but that was never done.
Mr Oshlack believes that may constitute contempt of court and is preparing to again fight development of the fragile coastal ecosystem.
‘In 1996 the court made orders for land remediation and then they had a special hearing with the chief justice in which they made an extensive remediation order,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘It never happened. The developer put the company into liquidation and he held out for about 18 years – and the statute of limitations to carry out the court orders lapsed.
‘Part of the development proposal is to test the viability of the various infrastructures: the plan is to utilise as much as they can of the illegally installed infrastructure, plus the illegal access road.
Mr Oschlack said that far from being a ‘guide against which future development applications could be assessed’, the history of the site suggested it was anything but.
‘I think the whole thing should be referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. I mean, it’s just a total outrage and contemptuous of the whole legal process and environmental law.
‘And with the alleged illegal clearing that took place in 2014, there has been an investigation going on for two years by the EPA and they have yet to give an answer as to whether they managed to prosecute or not – even though I provided evidence from expert witnesses of the damage that occurred without any development consent,’ Mr Oshlack said.
The department says it is encouraging community feedback on the plan.
Sekuir Migration, 18 April 2018:
Ingles Group, which is known for its wide-scale property developments and well established accountancy firm, Ingles Accounting, is now offering inbound migration services on the Gold Coast.
Graeme Ingles, who heads up Ingles Group, says that migration services are crucial to the ongoing growth of the Gold Coast and that he launched Sekuir Migration in response to growing demand from his customer base.
Many business owners on the Gold Coast are in need of skilled workers, particularly food trades workers who can meet the needs of the thriving tourism and night economy of the region.

ABC North Coast Radio, 25 January 2015:
The Richmond Valley Council has received 62 submissions objecting to the Iron Gates development - the latest comes from the Royal Australian Air Force.
In a two-page letter, the Assistant Director of Estate Planning for the Defence Department, Marc McGowan said: 'Air weapons training at Evans Head is expected to increase in scale and density over time, towards the maximum rate of use of 70 days per year. Aircraft will be conducting bombing during day and night.
'The results of aircraft noise modelling indicate that the aircraft noise exposures from the Super Hornet compare with noise generated by busy road traffic and construction work.
'While Defence makes every effort to minimise the effects of noise on the community, aircraft noise will never be eliminated... and residents in close proximity to Evans Head are likely to be exposed to greater amounts of aircraft noise than experienced in the last few years.'
The statement goes on to read that 'glare from reflective surfaces can affect the visibility of pilots during daylight hours, and artificial water bodies can attract additional birdlife and may expose RAAF aircraft to birdstrike, posing a risk to personnel.
'Based on the above concerns, defence does not support the proposed application.'
Financial Review, 30 March 2011:

Receivers for companies of struggling Gold Coast property developer Graeme Ingles have forced the sale of three major land holdings that could fetch up to $20 million.
The new batch of offerings adds to the bloated stock of Gold Coast land parcels on offer through receivers.
St George Bank has appointed receivers John Shanahan and Ginette Muller of KordaMentha to sell Mr Ingles’s two high-rise development sites at Southport, which could fetch up to $15 million.
The sites total more than 11,000 square metres and both have development approvals for up to 44 levels, including more than 700 apartments.

Smart Company, 20 October 2008:
The Federal Court has found a property developer made misleading claims about the progress of construction of a golf course that was the centerpiece of a Gold Coast property development.
The Federal Court has found a property developer made misleading claims about the progress of construction of a golf course that was the centerpiece of a Gold Coast property development.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took action against Queensland developer Ingles Group and its managing director, Graeme Ingles, over the Tee Trees Residential Golf Community estate at Arundel.
A major selling feature was that it would include a golf course, but there were significant delays in construction of the course.
In 2003, the Ingles Group distributed a letter to potential buyers, providing an update on the golf course construction and a purported explanation for the delays.
But the Federal Court found that by sending the letter to potential buyers, the Ingles Group engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), 17 October 2008:


Justice Spender declared that, by sending the letter to potential buyers, the Ingles Group engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.  It had breached section 52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 by:

  • representing that it had approval from the Gold Coast City Council to construct the golf course when in fact the approval granted was only preliminary and required that various further steps be taken before final approval could be granted
  • representing that the sole or primary cause of delay in construction was the drought when the primary cause was failure to obtain final council approval 
  • representing that it had called for tenders for bulk earthworks for the completion of the course and was awaiting the tender results when it had not yet called for tenders
  • representing that bulk earthworks for completion of the golf course would begin once tenders were received, when it did not have reasonable grounds for making such a claim, and
  • representing, by implication, that the course's construction would soon be well under way and would not be subject to any significant delays when it did not have reasonable grounds for such a claim, and when there were likely to be further significant delays.
According to Democracy 4 Sale from 2003 through to 2006 the Ingles Group made politcal donations to whichever of the two main poiltical parties held government in Queensland during those years.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

A proposal to dam the headwaters of the Clarence River would be a “bloody disaster”, says a grazier whose family has lived on the river since 1880


Freshwater section of the Clarence River
Photo: The Daily Examiner, 31 August 2019
The Daily Examiner, 31 August 2019, p.1: 

A proposal to dam the headwaters of the Clarence River would be a “bloody disaster”, says a grazier whose family has lived on the river since 1880. Trevor Wingfield said the flow in the river at his property at Fine Flower was the worst he had seen since the 1990-94 drought. 

“I can drive across the river on my motorbike and the water doesn’t even cover the tyres on the bike,” he said. 

“The ABC came out to shoot some footage to use on the Country Hour and I was able to ride my motorbike along the river and barely wet the wheels. 

“Normally there would be three to four foot of water in the river at this time of the year.” Mr Wingfield rates the current water flows as worse than the 1990s drought. 

“It took from 1990 to ’94 for the flows in the river to get so low. This time it’s only been about 14 months.” 

He said taking any water out of the system during drought times would be disastrous and farmers along the Clarence would fight it. 

“If they try anything, they’ve got a big fight on their hands,” he said. “I’ve got a heap of women from around here behind me and they’re not going to take a backward step. 

“I call this my river. I was reared on it and my family has seen all that’s happened on it since the 1880s. 

“The Aboriginals told my grandparents things about this river no-one knows now. There’s nothing anyone can tell me about the Clarence River.” 

Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons was also adamant no water would be leaving the Clarence for a long time. 

Cr Simmons said not one of the Southern Downs, Toowoomba, Western Downs and Tenterfield Shire councils had contacted the Clarence Valley about a proposal to pipe water inland from the Clarence headwaters. 

“It’s a little surprising they’ve gone so far down the track without involving us,” Cr Simmons said. 

“Neither State Government has contacted us either.” 

He said the council would defend the region against any attempts to take water out of the Clarence catchment. 

“The attitude here is pretty strongly against it and if there was to be any change in policy we would have to thoroughly consult the community,” he said. 

Cr Simmons said people who saw the tidal reaches of the Clarence River at Grafton or in the Lower Clarence would have a different view if they saw it north of Copmanhurst. 

“They would see some pretty shallow flows in the river,” he said. 

He said the Clarence Valley’s water supply came from the Nymboida River and the Shannon Creek Dam, which supplies water to the Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour. 

Cr Simmons said the Valley was now enjoying the benefits of planning for the future, which other areas perhaps needed to emulate. 

“The problem for these councils is this plan won’t help them now,” Cr Simmons said. 

“The lead time in consultation and planning, plus the construction of the infrastructure that would include water-conveying infrastructure as well as any dams will take a long time.” 

Cr Simmons said the Clarence catchment would need all the water unless there was good rain soon. 

“We were out opening a bridge on the Old Glen Innes Rd recently and I saw the creek bed was completely dry,” he said. “We might not be in a position to be giving up any of our water pretty soon.” 

The man who kicked off the Not ADrop campaign to keep the Clarence River flowing, former Daily Examiner editor Peter Ellem, said his position has not changed since those days. 

Mr Ellem, a Clarence Valley councillor, said he preferred to leave commentary on the latest developments to the Mayor, but was on record opposing any river diversion proposals. 

The Clarence Valley’s drinking water supplies look good for now, with the Nymboida River flow of 236 ML/day feeding consumption of 18.17 ML/day.

The Shannon Creek Dam is at 97 per cent capacity. 

The Daily Examiner, 31 August 2019, p.18: 

FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK 
BILL NORTH Editor 

Take your gloves off and dig your heels into the muddy (edit: crystal-clear rocky) banks of the Clarence. 

We’re going in for round two of the Not a Drop: Keep the Clarence Mighty campaign and this one could be an epic battle for the ages. 

Views on how best to manage water vary greatly depending on whether you watch sunrises over sea or sunsets over dusty plains. 

Those inland dwellers living in the rain shadow of the Great Dividing Range and sparse expanses beyond are in the grips of despair, pondering ways to manufacture reliable water supplies to ensure their longevity. 

Southern Downs councillors voted in favour of submitting a project to divert water from the upper reaches of the Clarence River west as top priority in a list of significant projects to the Federal Government. 

They see a seven per cent water allocation with large volumes flowing out to sea as a waste. 

We know natural river flows are imperative to sustain fish stocks that drive our tourism industry in the upper and lower catchment, as well as commercial viability in the estuary. 

They perceive that piping water inland will have little impact on coastal communities while rescuing the economic viability of Australia’s food basket. 

We know a dam would have a disastrous impact on farmers living downstream in a Valley where primary production – which includes beef, sugar cane, aquaculture, prawn trawling, fishing, macadamias and blueberries – is worth almost $500 million to its annual economy. 

The Southern Downs region incorporates councils from Toowoomba, Western Downs and Southern Downs in Queensland as well as Tenterfield Shire in NSW and has “a major deficit in access to secure water supplies for urban consumption and for agriculture”, according to Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio. 

“New sources of water can include diversion from the headwaters of the Clarence River basin via the Maryland River,” Cr Antonio said. 

“Nothing short of a visionary, nation-building initiative led by the Commonwealth will solve this problem.” 

When the Darling Downs was last gripped in severe drought in 2006, then-editor of The Daily Examiner Peter Ellem deflected calls for water diversion in true Darryl Kerrigan fashion: “Tell ’em up there in Toowoomba they’re dreamin’,” he said at the time. 

This publication launched the Not a Drop: Keep the Clarence Mighty campaign and successfully resisted the federal push to investigate options.  
As droughts get harsher the waves of pressure inevitably become stronger and a government desperate to find solutions to combat the climate disaster may turn to drastic measures. 

If we have to go to war with the Federal Government again, the Clarence River could become little more than a red trickle after that bloodbath. 

As we’ve seen with Adani and other coal-mining projects in Queensland, not even the Great Barrier Reef – a World Heritage area with a tourism industry worth $6.4 billion a year – can stand in the way when this Government sets its mind to something. 

At a meet-the-candidates forum for the state election earlier this year, all five Clarence candidates stood firm against the idea of sharing our water. 

It’s that kind of solidarity that will be needed in the fight to keep our pristine waters unsullied. As the leading and most trusted local media source, we reach a greater audience in the Clarence Valley than anyone else and are your most effective mouthpiece. 

What do you think about ideas to divert water west? Or proposals to build dams, mines and ports in our river system? 

Join the debate, send an email to newsroom@dailyexaminer.com.au and have your say as we fight protect our most valuable asset: water.