Showing posts with label environmental vandalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label environmental vandalism. Show all posts

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Queensland Government gives Adani Group an early Christmas present worth up to $900 million in royalty deferrals


INSTITUTE FOR ENERGY ECONOMICS AND FINANCIAL ANALYSIS (IEEFA):

29 November 2019 (IEEFA Australia) – Queensland Treasury are expected to sign off on a massive early Christmas present worth up to $900m packaged as a seven-year royalty deferral – another term for a capital subsidy – for the Adani Group on 30 November 2019 (likely to be announced on 29 November), ironically on the one-year anniversary of Adani declaring it will self-fund its Carmichael thermal coal mine in the Galilee Basin, Queensland.
Adani Australia – part of the Adani Group of India – announced the Carmichael thermal coal mine would ‘stand on its own two feet’, without any subsidies, in November 2018.
One year later and the Adani Group is not only expected to receive a $900m royalty present from the Queensland government, but the Adani Group is also set to receive over $4.4 billion in total tax exemptions, deferrals and capital subsidies from taxpayers for the life of the Carmichael mine.
“If you give enough subsidies, anything becomes viable.”
“If you give enough subsidies, anything becomes viable,” says Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
“Global and domestic banks and insurers have turned their back on financing the Adani Group, joining the massive global financial exit away from thermal coal. To-date, 111 globally significant banks and insurers have implemented formal thermal coal restriction policies, including the latest just this week, being UniCredit, the largest bank in Italy.
“Yet the Queensland government still wants to give an early $900m Christmas present to the Adani Group for a product that faces technological obsolescence, is reliant on ongoing subsidies, and is only viable absent a price on carbon emissions.”
Under existing arrangements, Adani will effectively receive 17% of their coal for free compared to the royalty regime applying in NSW, according to The Australia Institute.
Any deal should be publicly transparent given rising stranded asset risks
“Queensland’s generosity in providing such a lavish gift to India’s richest man means local Queenslanders will NOT see royalties from Adani’s Carmichael thermal coal mine for a decade,” says Buckley. “Any deal should be made transparent to the public, and credible financial assurance needs to be put in place as a minimum to ensure eventual payment, given rising stranded asset risks....

Read the full article here.

BACKGROUND

ABC News, 14 March 2017:

Up to $3 billion from Adani's planned Carmichael coal mine will be shifted to a subsidiary owned in the Cayman Islands if the controversial project goes ahead, an analysis of company filings shows.

Key points:

  • 'Royalty deed' gives shell company rights to recieve $2-a-tonne payment beyond first 400K tonnes mined for two decades
  • Entitlement owned by company registered in Cayman Islands, controlled by Adani family
  • Carmichael coal mine's production capacity means payment ammounts to about $120 million per year
An "overarching royalty deed" gives a shell company rights to receive a $2-a-tonne payment, rising yearly by the inflation rate, beyond the first 400,000 tonnes mined in each production year for two decades.
The company with this entitlement is ultimately owned by Atulya Resources Limited, a secretive entity registered in the Cayman Islands, and controlled by the Adani family.
"In plain English, the upshot for the Adani family is [that] if the mine goes ahead, they receive a $2-a-tonne payment, so up to $3 billion, via a Cayman Islands company, a company owned in a tax haven," says Adam Walters, principal researcher and Energy Resource Insights.
With a production capacity of 60 million tonnes or more a year, that amounts to about $120 million per annum in payments, increasing each year in line with the CPI, potentially flowing offshore.
"I would describe it as a structure that means that the Adani family enriches themselves if the mine goes ahead but that other shareholders are impoverished," associate professor Thomas Clarke, director of the Centre for Corporate Governance at UTS told the ABC.
"The worry is that this may be just the beginning.
"That the Adani family have the ability to shift cash and assets around at will and in the future they may well do so at the cost of shareholders and the Queensland economy."
He said the billions flowing to the Adani private company would come at the expense of minority shareholders in the company listed on the Bombay stock exchange which ultimately owns the Carmichael mine.....
Read the full article here.
ABC News, 21 December 2016:

Giant Indian conglomerate Adani, which plans to build one of the world's largest coal mines in Queensland's Galilee Basin, has set up a complex network of companies and trusts in Australia which are owned in one of the world's major tax havens, the Cayman Islands.

The Adani Group is also attempting to shift ownership of the existing Abbot Point coal port — which it bought for $1.8 billion — to a Singaporean company ultimately owned in the Cayman Islands.

An exhaustive search of company filings and documents across the globe has cast light on this opaque structure of ownership and control.

It has alarmed environmental activists and legal experts, who fear it could make it harder to gain compensation from Adani in the event of an environmental disaster from Adani's planned mine and port expansion on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.

"I've been a businessman for most of my life, as well as an environmental activist, and the risks are great," said Geoff Cousins, former Optus CEO and chairman of the George Paterson advertising agency, now a board member of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

"With these kinds of approvals of big mining operations or port operations, you always get a set of conditions that the Government puts on.

"But those conditions aren't worth anything if, when something goes wrong, you try to find the company responsible and either it has no money or if it has money it's in a tax haven and you can't reach it."

It is a view echoed by David Chaikin, a professor of business law at the University of Sydney.

"The advantage of having the money in tax havens is that you are able to conceal the source of money, the use of money, and also to minimise tax," he said…..

Adani has created four companies and two trusts in Australia for the rail project.

The parent company for all these entities is Carmichael Rail and Port Singapore Holdings Pte Ltd, a company registered in Singapore where the corporate tax rate is 15 per cent.

This Singapore parent company is in turn owned by Atulya Resources Limited, a private company controlled by the Adani family and based in the Cayman Islands.

The port expansion has a similar structure: five companies and two trusts in Australia, ultimately controlled by Atulya Resources in the Cayman Islands……

The Guardian, 29 August 2018:

Mining conglomerate the Adani Group is trying to prevent Indian authorities from accessing its business records as part of an investigation into an alleged $4bn fraud by power companies.
Lawyers for Adani on Tuesday filed a plea asking the Bombay high court to quash a formal request by Indian investigators to Singaporean authorities to force the company to produce information regarding its coal imports from Indonesia.
The request is part of an investigation by India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) into a $4.4bn alleged fraud by 40 power companies including six Adani subsidiaries.
According to DRI documents, the companies allegedly used fake middlemen to inflate the price of coal they were importing from Indonesia. The scheme allowed the companies to charge higher tariffs by exaggerating their production costs, the DRI claimed.
If true, the alleged scam would also have allowed the companies to siphon billions of dollars from India into offshore bank accounts where Indian authorities would struggle to tax or account for the money....

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Meet some of Meet Scott Morrsison's "indulgent" environmental "anarchists" as they sing about 200 weeks of continuous protest


Terrifying bunch aren't they? One can just see they have molotov cocktails in their back pockets and are planning violent chaos. 

Scott Morrison is such a fool.  

Monday, 30 September 2019

Water raiders drop the pretence and go for source of Clarence Valley's drinking water


Having degraded their own rivers and failed to adequately plan their own water security for times of drought, local governments in the Murray-Darling Basin are calling for damming and diversion of water from the Northern NSW Clarence River system.

Thus far the Maryland River and the Aberfoyle River have been identified as desirable options by these wannabee water raiders. 

This is the Clarence River Catchment.
via Blicks River Guardians

The Aberfolye River is shown in the left hand lower curve of the catchment boundary.

The river is approximately 115km in length with an annual average water flow of 19,482 ML.

The Aberfoyle River* empties into the Guy Fawkes River which in turn runs into the Boyd River which is a tributary of the Nymbodia River which itself is the greatest contributor of water to the Clarence River system and the source of at least 95 per cent of Clarence Valley drinking water.

The Nymboida River is also the source for water storage held in the 30,000Ml Shannon Creek side dam which supplies water security for a combined total of 128,198 residents (as well as local businesses and over 5 million tourists annually) in Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City local government areas.

Ten years ago the Nymboida was supplying water for a population of 95,000 - in forty years time it is conservatively expected to supply 220,000.


This proposal appears to be based on one of fourteen Clarence River diversion schemes 'desktop' investigated in the early 1980s - specifically a proposed dam on the Aberfoyle diverting water to either Happy Valley, Boorolong or Teatree creeks to feed the Gwydir River, or alternatively an Aberfoyle dam to feed the Gara River. 

Drawing more water from the Upper Nymboida sub-catchment will in all probability raise hydrological and environmental stress on the entire Nymboida River and, may result in water levels at the Nymboida Weir falling below the 225Ml/D low flow level pumping cutoff up to est. 80 per cent of the time.

At the time of writing the Nymboida flow was 200Ml/D.

Indeed, given that rainfall decline has been occurring in the Northern Rivers region for around five decades, any further decline in available river water to supply daily use and long-term water storage has the potential to see intractable water scarcity develop in Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City local government areas, as well as a sharp decline in the health of the Nymboida River.

The rest of eastern Australia needs to realise that the Clarence River system is not filled to the brim with harvestable water. The 500,000,000Ml of water annually discharging into the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Clarence River was a myth from the first time it was calculated.

Even Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City councils will have to curb their desire for continuous development, as they probably have less than twenty years of water security remaining even if the wall of Shannon Creek Dam were to be raised.

Since the Millennium Drought Clarence Valley households have been on permanent low level water use restrictions as a precautionary measure, but as this current drought** may indicate that severe drought is no longer an anomaly but an everyday fact of life, we may be facing a higher level of permanent water restrictions very soon. 

Note

The Devils Chimney in the Aberfoyle River gorge was declared an Aboriginal Place on 8 August 1980. It is protected under under Section 90 of the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Act 1974 and can not be damaged, defaced or destroyed without the consent of the NPW Director-General. Unfortunately the NSW Berejiklian Government does allow for damage and destruction of such sites.

** The NSW DPI Clarence Valley Drought Map as of 24 September 2019:

CDI = Combined Drought Indicator. RI = Rainfall Index. SWI = Soil Water Index. PGI = Pasture Growth Index. DDI = Drought Direction Index
Data current to 24/9/2019 (AEST)

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Insecticide poisoning caused the death of 15 Satin Bowerbirds found at Modanville, near Lismore in recent weeks


Echo NetDaily,  September 2019:

Insecticide poisoning caused the death of 15 satin bowerbirds found at Modanville, near Lismore in recent weeks, investigators have revealed.
A Satin Bowerbird. Source: Wikipedia
Investigations conducted by North Coast Local Land Services have confirmed that the bird deaths were caused by the banned insecticide Fenthion.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is now seeking assistance from members of the public in a bid to determine how the poisoning occurred.
As the responsible regulator for pesticide use, the EPA is exploring the possibility that the birds, which are a protected native species, may have been deliberately targeted.
No other bird species is known to have been impacted.
EPA Manager Regional Operations North Coast Benjamin Lewin said the killing of native birds, whether through intentional or reckless pesticide misuse, was a serious offence.
‘We are encouraging anyone with information on these deaths, or anyone who may have seen some activity that could be related to this illegal baiting, to contact the EPA as soon as possible,’ Mr Lewin said.
Fenthion, which was banned from use in 2014 with a phase out period of one year, is a broad-spectrum organophosphorus insecticide.
It is extremely toxic to birds and substantial penalties exist for its possession and use.
The chemical was widely used in the past for insect control on a broad range of fruit crops and for external parasite control on livestock.

Monday, 16 September 2019

NSW land clearing for agriculture now thought to exceed 27,100 hectares annually


The Guardian, 13 September 2019:

A highly secret government-commissioned review into skyrocketing rates of clearing of native vegetation for farming in New South Wales has been completed and is likely to add to simmering tensions between the Liberals and Nationals within cabinet.
The review, which was triggered when land clearing exceeded 20,000 hectares in less than a year, has been undertaken by the NSW Natural Resources Commission, an independent body, and is soon to be considered by cabinet.
It is investigating clearing rates since the new Biodiversity Conservation Act began in August 2017 and whether the Act is working to preserve biodiversity.
The NRC’s chief executive, Bryce Wilde, confirmed his agency had been asked by the premier to do the review on 14 January, just before the state election, and had handed the findings to the government six weeks ago.
It did not seek any public or industry submissions, although Wilde said the NRC had sought expert input from consultants, who signed confidentiality agreements.But the mention in an estimates committee on Friday was the first time it had become public. The NRC said the review was “cabinet in confidence” and had sought information from departments only.
The review – and what to do about the escalation of land clearing in NSW – will add to the tensions between the Liberals and Nationals over stewardship of the environment.
The Coalition partners are already at loggerheads over key policies including management of wild brumbies in national parks, water policy and calls by the Nationals to allow logging in the River Red Gum national park on the Murray.
This week the agriculture minister, Adam Marshall, whose seat covers much of northern NSW where the land clearing is occurring, flagged introducing a “regional code” for clearing in the north-west of NSW, saying the current laws were not working well for large-scale farming enterprises.
This was interpreted as a plan to further relax the rules for when farmers can clear without a permit – at least in this region.
Regional codes were foreshadowed in the Biodiversity Conservation Act and a pilot is being run near Walgett.
But the secret NRC review is likely to bolster the arguments of the environment minister, Matt Kean, and the senior portfolio minister, Rob Stokes, who are known to be deeply concerned about the rapid escalation of land clearing and its impact on biodiversity......

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Good grief! Its 2002 meets 2007 in the Northern Rivers region during 2019


Clarence Valley Independent, letter to the Editor,11 September 2019:

Ed,
Good grief! Its 2002 meets 2007 in the Northern Rivers region right now.
This month we learned that there was an approx. 40 degree Celsius sudden warming in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica which will extend the current eastern Australia drought into the foreseeable future. With the Bureau of Meteorology stating that the last time a similar event occurred was in 2002 when the country experienced one of its driest years on record.
Readers might recall that 2002 was smack bang in the middle of the millennium drought. A drought which at one point saw the Orara River cease to run and at another, the Nymboida Weir unable to do more than supply two weeks of drinking water for the Clarence Valley before the pumps would no longer be able to draw any water up at all.
Last month we discovered that wannabee water raiders from the Murray-Darling Basin were back with another bid to divert water from the Clarence River system so that they could get a larger, less expensive dam built to order and, these four local councils – one in NSW and three in Queensland – can then undertake the intended expansion of their their urban and industry footprints.
Just as in 2007 they come at a time when the Clarence Valley is in drought and water flow in the upper reaches of the Clarence River is low, demanding we supply irrigation and drinking water – this time for an additional est. 236,984 people.
And just as in 2007 the media reports that at least one of the councils has already been talking with the federal Minister for Water Resources about their cross-border water diversion scheme and is pursuing a meeting in Canberra [The Chronicle, 3 September 2019, p.5 ].
The only difference between 2002, 2007 and 2019 is that the Clarence Valley acted on the lessons learnt between 1996 and 2010. Something Tenterfield, Toowoomba, Southern Downs and Western Downs failed to do.
Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City expanded their original water sharing arrangement by building the Shannon Creek Dam to future proof as much as is possible the water supply for a est. combined total population of 128,198 people.
Now these four Murray-Darling Basin councils want the Clarence River system to supply water for a new total combined population of 365,182 people.
I wonder if now is the time to remind those politicians who may be thinking of supporting this push to build a 20,000 to 30,000 megalitre dam and pipeline that, the last time an attempt was made to grab Clarence water willy nilly, Clarence Valley communities helped bring down a federal government.
Judith M. Melville, Yamba

Friday, 13 September 2019

Water raiders want Clarence Valley communities to be "grown-up" and just let them go ahead and degrade the upper Clarence River water flow


This was Toowooba Regional Council in 2018 and the Clarence Valley's response.......

The Daily Examiner, 24 April 2018

This is Toowoomba Regional Council in 2019......

The Chronicle, 10 September 2019:

TOOWOOMBA Mayor Paul Antonio has called on his New South Wales colleagues to be part of a “grown-up discussion” over long-term water strategies, including a pipeline from the Clarence River.
Cr Antonio’s comments come amid a push-back from the Grafton community over discussions to connect the bountiful Clarence system to struggling areas in the Southern and Western Downs to combat the effects of drought.
Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons said last week he was adamant no headwaters would be leaving the system in the near future, even as the multi-council water allocation plan collects speed.
But Cr Antonio said it was important that all options were explored to ensure the east coast of Australia was well-supplied.
“I think we’ve got to be grown up and have a discussion around that,” he said.
“The Maryland river system has a 21,000ML yield, would take a fraction of water from the Clarence, but make a profound difference.
“We need the state governments in Queensland and New South Wales to facilitate a conversation around water strategies, and I’m having some robust discussions with the mayor of Tenterfield (Peter Petty) at the moment about it.”
The council endorsed a motion early last year to investigate a pipeline from the Clarence River, and the Southern Downs Regional Council made a similar commitment late last week.
Cr Antonio said continuous consultations over water would become the reality for councils and state governments in the near future.
“Water is the new currency, water is the limiting factor in population growth and food production in this area and many other areas,” he said.
“Now is the time to reflect on where we are and put strategies in place and it will lift this nation and make it more productive.”

Clarence Valley Independent, 4 September 2019:

In a video on SDRC’s Facebook site, the [Southern Downs Regional Council] mayor says “we have letters of support from Toowoomba regional Council and Paul Antonio, mayor of Toowoomba, [who is] also the chair of the Darling Downs South West Queensland Council of Mayors”.
Mr Antonio said in his letter: “As chair of Darling Downs South West Queensland Council of Mayors … I write to give the strongest of support to your council’s submission to the Australian Infrastructure Audit regarding long-term water security on the Darling Downs and NSW Border Ranges.”
Mr Antonio referred to a “crisis meeting” held among each of the councils on May 16.
“It was agreed we will work together to spread resources through planning to interconnect our [water] supplies….” he writes.
“New sources of water can include diversion from the headwaters of the Clarence River basin, via the Maryland River, and access to recycled water from Brisbane.
“Both these options require major investment well beyond the means of the councils involved.
“They also will take a merging of political wills across all three levels of government.
“Nothing short of a visionary, nation-building initiative led by the Commonwealth will solve the problem.
This is a Clarence Valley resident's response in 2019.....

The Mayor of Toowoomba, Paul Antonio, claims to want "grown-up discussions" concerning a proposal to dam and divert Clarence River system water across the border into southern Queensland.

Yet strangely he has not been adult enough himself to notify Clarence Valley Council of this proposal or enter into dialogue with this council which represents the majority of people and communities living along the length of this NSW river system.

What Cr. Antonio also forgets or just chooses to ignore when touting his "nation building initiative" is that there in a legislated, carefully considered water sharing plan already in place - the Water Sharing Plan for the Clarence River Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2016.

This plan covers the Maryland River and specifies the limits to granting water access licences, as well as limits to the maximum amount of water which can be drawn off this river which is set out as 995 ML/yr.

It also specifies when extraction should cease due to low flows; "Water must not be taken when the height of the water in Maryland River passing through the culvert pipes over the Rivertree Road near the southern boundary of portion 33, Parish of Reid, County of Buller, is less than or equal to 50 mm."

The plan defines the constraints on harvestable water rights as those set out in Water Management Act 2000 - Sect 53 & 54. This state act blocks supplying "any other land" with water that has been captured by landholders on the Maryland River.

Additionally, the plan limits the water extraction licence pool to an upper limit of 990 share components.

This water sharing plan was not something that was created without "grown-up discussions". Because NSW stakeholders recognized that our rivers are markedly variable and there is significant competition for water (especially in dry times). So there had to be an evidence-based balance between the needs of users and the need for a sustainable environmental flow in this particular Clarence River tributary.

Because without a genuine environmental flow entering the Clarence River at the confluence of the Maryland and Clarence Rivers, the upper Clarence River would overtime become a degraded waterway.

Cr. Antonio is talking of building an in-river dam and, as the proposed amount of water to be held back from entering the Clarence River under this water raiding scheme is actually 55.5% of the average annual flow of the Maryland River and an est. 57% of its unallocated annual flow, it is hard to see how environmental flows below this proposed dam wall can be reliably met.

Especially given there are existing landholder water entitlements in the Rivertree region on which local farmers depend as they come to grips with changing rainfall patterns.

This Queensland local government councillor is yet to demonstrate that he has any understanding of the interconnective nature of hydrological processes at work along the more than 380 km length of the Clarence River from its headwaters to coastal estuary mouth.

Cr. Antonio appears to see the Clarence River system in terms of the potential for economic growth in his own region -  failing to see the very real aesthetic, cultural, social, environmental and economic values it holds for the people of the Clarence Valley.

He does not take into consideration that the Clarence River system already supplies the water needs of 128,198 residents in the Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City local government areas and, that this river underpins two regional economies which together were worth an estimated $5.58 billion in 2018. [See Clarence Valley Council Economic Profile and Coffs Harbour City Council Economic Profile]

One might suspect that Cr. Antonio (who will presumably be seeking re-election in a little over five months) views this water diversion proposal solely through the narrow lens of his own political and personal financial ambitions.

Background

2. ABC News, 7 December 2018:

A southern Queensland Mayor has been fined nearly $15,000 after he was found to have engaged in misconduct in his dealings with the Melbourne-to-Brisbane Inland Railway project.
In an interview with the ABC in 2017, Councillor Paul Antonio, who owns a gravel quarry near Millmerran on the route chosen by the Federal Government, conceded he stood to benefit from the inland rail project.
The ABC revealed, Cr Antonio personally paid $4,900 to have an alternate route for the project investigated, which took the line to the very edge of his quarry.
Cr Antonio told the ABC he paid for the map to find an alternative that did not go through prime agricultural land in Millmerran, to help affected farmers.
After initially telling the ABC he gave the map only to one Millmerran farmer, he later conceded he provided the map to former industry minister Ian MacFarlane, who is now the chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council, and the Federal Member for Groom, John McVeigh.
The matter was referred to the Local Government Regional Conduct Review Panel in April 2018 after a complaint was made by a fellow councillor and a member of the public.
The panel decided the complaint of misconduct was sustained.....
Cr Antonio was fined $14.360.50, ordered to undergo counselling, make an admission of error, and apologise at the next council meeting.
The panel also recommended the Local Government Department's chief executive officer monitor Cr Antonio for compliance with the Local Government Act.....

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Water raiders show their ignorance and reveal the true motive for wanting to dam & divert water from the Clarence River


There are four councils currently calling for the diversion of water from the Clarence River system - Tenterfield Shire Council (NSW), Toowoomba Regional Council (Qld), Southern Downs Regional Council (Qld) and Western Downs Regional Council (Qld).

These local government areas have a combined population of est. 236,984 people.

Here is the aptly named Peter Petty from Tenterfield demonstrating his ignorance about the hydrological processes at work along the more than 380km length of this coastal river. 

He seems to forget there are irrigators already drawing water from the Maryland River, one of the main tributaries of the Clarence River where it rises at Rivertree, NSW and he appears to naively believe that harvesting between 20,00 to 30,000 megalitres from the total unallocated annual flow of 36,839 megalitres would have no effect on the Upper Clarence.

Even if the proposed dam capacity was only 21,000 megalitres that is equivalent to approximately 57 per cent of the average annual unallocated water flowing from this tributary into the Clarence River.

Mr. Petty is likely one of the people supporting an application to Infrastructure Australia to fund this large dam on the Maryland River, in order to pump pipe water over 45 kms as the crow flies into a region in Queensland which is quite capable of building water infrastructure within southern Queensland to meet the needs of its own population.

Just as the last time councils in the Murray-Darling Basin made a concerted effort to raid the Clarence River catchment when the hidden agenda was obtaining someone else's water to expand their own urban footprint and/or grow their own local economies, Mr. Petty let slip a similar hidden motive this time.

It's not about water to relieve current drought conditions because a project such as these councils are suggesting takes years to bring to fruition and will do nothing to ease current water shortages.

No, it's about conning the Federal, New South Wales and Queensland governments into backing infrastructure which will enable this blatant water theft because "they are looking to expand"

The Daily Examiner, 5 September 2019, p.3, excerpt: 

On the issue of building a dam on the Maryborough River, Tenterfield Mayor Peter Petty said he was not concerned about the effect on the lower Clarence because of the small percentage of water being redirected. 

“With the research and everything that has been done up here, we are talking less than 1per cent,” he said. 

Cr Petty said the water issues regional councils faced now were in part due to a reluctance from governments to invest in water infrastructure. He said if people were serious about decentralisation, then more needed to be done to shore up water supplies. 

“We used to lead the world but there has been nothing done for 40 years,” he said. “I have no problem supporting populations to support industry, but you cannot do it without infrastructure to secure water. 

“These towns need to be supported, and especially where they are looking to expand. (Towns like) Warwick and Toowoomba should have had adequate water supply years ago and now we are playing catch up.”

Friday, 6 September 2019

Destruction of tree cover at Woombah Woods Caravan Park still not resolved


"We're literally on watch to call them [council officers] if we see or hear anything. The clearing started without any regard to rules, regulations or the Woombah community." [Emma Mills, Woombah resident quoted in Coastal Views, 16 August 2019] 

 ABC News, 9 August 2019: 

PHOTO: Council approval to develop the site was granted in the 1980s. (Supplied: Emma Mills)


There are fears important wildlife habitat is being destroyed as a developer tries to reactivate a 35-year-old site approval on the New South Wales north coast. 

About 30 large trees have been felled at the Woombah Woods Caravan Park near Iluka this week. Property developer William Hu paid about $2.7 million for the park earlier this year.......

PHOTO: William Hu has plans to expand the caravan park. (ABC North Coast: Bronwyn Herbert) 


He said he planned to remove every tree on the site to make way for more than 60 new cabins. 

"It is my legal right to clear all the trees within the approved footprint," Mr Hu said. 

"I'm a businessman. I want to make money. 

"But I also want my whole community to make money or live in a better environment." 

Clarence Valley Council planner Des Schroder said a temporarily stop-work order had been issued for the site. 

"The reality is that DAs (development approvals), as long as they're commenced, are valid forever," he said. 

"They have started work, the first stage; the question is whether they need DAs for further stages. 

Trees have been cut down in the Woombah Woods Caravan Park.

"That's the point for investigation ... if there needs to be a contemporary ecological survey done, even if the trees are allowed to be cleared. 

"There is significance from a koala point of view ... there is potential maybe for koala food trees or for a corridor." 

Emma Mills lives next to the caravan park and said the area was home to a significant koala population. 

It was also adjacent to a section of the Pacific Highway upgrade where the Roads and Maritime Service had taken measures to keep wildlife off the road, she said. 

"They have just recently installed a koala grid because there is an active koala colony just the opposite side of the highway," Ms Mills said. 

"They have indeed put a highway underpass for the koalas just to reach the eastern corridor, which we form part of. 

"We also see countless birdlife, kookaburras, parrots, black cockatoos, wallabies, bandicoots, possums." 

Stu Stark, who lived in the park for 18 months while building a house nearby, also said he saw and heard koalas. 

"We only saw a couple — they are very hard to spot, but they make a really loud noise at night time," he said. 

"I'm not sure if that's mating, I'm not sure what it is, but we heard plenty of that when we were living over at the caravan park." 

Mr Hu said long-term residents of the park told him they had never seen koalas on the site. 

The developer said he bought the park because he liked its feng shui, and he hoped to buy and develop other similar facilities. 

"This is my baby, my first caravan park. I want to build it up to the standard of William Hu," he said. "I'm going to do more after this one."

Clarence Valley Independent, 14 August 2019:


Mr Hu said that the clearing of the trees was to make way for new cabins and he was acting on advice from consultants who assured him a 1984 approval for development meant he did not require further council approval for the trees removal. 

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) issued a notice “to cease any further works until at least Council completes necessary investigations and provides further advice”. 

The removal of the trees (thought to be grey gum and tallow wood) was raised by the ‘Association of Iluka Residents’ (AIR) last Wednesday. 

President of AIR, Tony Belton claimed the trees were “a significant koala habitat” and that it was thought many of the trees may be around 100 years old.


Mr Belton said the developer is claiming that a DA approval issued over thirty years ago is still relevant, but his argument surely is now invalid, as the science is now showing that koalas in Northern NSW are threatened and under great duress due to habitat removal, displacement and connectivity obstruction. 

“It’s ironic that the major Pacific Highway upgrade being undertaken a mere one hundred meters away (from this caravan park) has had many kilometres of koala fencing and under road tunnels and grids to accommodate the recognised koala habitat and connectivity at Woombah. 

Possibly hundreds of thousands of Federal tax dollars have been spent on this infrastructure in and around Woombah as part of the highway upgrade. 

Surely this is contradictory policy in 2019,” he said. 


As of 3 September 2019 no further tree clearing has occurred at the caravan park and it is understood that the temporary stop work order is still in place.

Given discussions between the Queensland developer and council are confidential, concerned Woombah residents still know little more than those facts contained in the initial media reports.

However, it does appear that the developer's vision for this caravan park may possibly be far removed from conditions contained in the original 1984 DA consent document.

UPDATE

Mr. Hu is apparently unhappy with Clarence Valley Council decisions with regard to his developement and has taken council to the Land & Environment Court in William Hu v Clarence Valley Council. A Directions hearing was held on 14 October 2019.