From the Newsroom

CVC doubles down on opposition to mining and river diversion

Geoff Helisma


Clarence Valley Council (CVC) is making sure the NSW Government understands its position regarding its opposition to mining in the Clarence River catchment and diversion of the river, as well as pre-empting any negative effects the construction of a fish ladder at Nymboida could have on the valley’s water supply.

Councillors unanimously endorsed a submission to the draft North Coast and Border Rivers regional water strategies at the June CVC meeting.

In its submission, CVC notes that expanding the Clarence-Coffs Harbour Regional Water Supply Scheme and the augmentation of Shannon Creek Dam were not included in the short list of options, which were in the previous long list of options, and submitted, “Were it proposed (following the current exhibition period) to reinstate Options 1 and 4 in the final strategy, [CVC] requests an opportunity to again respond to these options.”

Similarly, CVC’s submission requests the inclusion of the former Option 37 – cancelling mining licences or leases within the Clarence River catchment – in the final water strategy.

CVC resolved at its November 2020 meeting, in part, “to oppose mining in the Clarence River catchment and to seek the support of both state and federal governments to impose a moratorium on further mining exploration licences and to cancel existing licences.”

On diversion of the Clarence River, CVC’s submission cites the draft strategy – ‘there was also significant opposition to inland catchment diversions given the perceived economic and environmental costs’, and under ‘what we have heard’ it indicates ‘it is not ecologically sustainable to divert water to other catchments or regions’ – and comments, “Council is concerned that the draft strategy has only noted community feedback opposing diversion and has not specifically indicated reasons this option should not proceed.

“It is noted that the Draft Border Rivers Regional Water Strategy consultation paper [also] indicates [that] … inland diversion from the east [to West] … [is] not viable due to low benefit to cost ratio.

“…CVC’s position on diversion is best summarised in [its] resolution … from its meeting of 22 September 2020: That council reiterates its policy position of opposition to any proposal that would result in any diversion of water from Clarence catchments, as previously resolved by [four previous] council resolutions.

“…It is requested that the final North Coast strategy include a similar statement indicating diversion of the Clarence River is not viable.”

In relation to the draft strategy’s ‘Improve fish passage in the North Coast region’ option, CVC’s submission states, “One of the high priority fish barriers proposed for replacement or remediation is the Nymboida weir, which is where CVC’s drinking water supply is extracted.

“…Council requests the final strategy include a statement that implementation of Action 2.1 will need to ensure Council’s access to drinking water is not compromised.”