Resort appeal for more water

LANDHOLDERS objecting to the decision to grant Cherrabah Resort 500 megalitres of water over the next 10 years have learned that the resort's developers have also applied for a review and will push for a higher water allowance.

The Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) yesterday gave submitters objecting to the allocation more time to gather documents through Right to Information (RTI) to support their request for an internal review of its decision.

When contacted by the Daily News, DERM refused to issue any comment on the matter.

However, documents obtained by the Daily News show developers of Cherrabah, operating under Joyful View Garden Real Estate Development Resort Co P/L, have also asked DERM to reconsider because a “hydrogeological report suggests a reasonable amount of 200 megalitres per year.”

It says this amount should be added to, instead of overwriting, the original five megalitres the resort already has a licence for and adds “other issues may be suggested by their professional consultants.”

The water is sourced from the Stanthorpe Adamellites, which are, according to the hydrologist, separate and deeper to the source that surrounding properties primarily draw from.

Extensive drilling was carried out before the decision was made and stringent monitoring conditions have been attached to the outcome.

In its decision, DERM said there was not enough evidence to support the initial application, which was to extend the licence to 200 megalitres a year and so it granted an average of 50 megalitres a year over 10 years.

One sticking point, however, was its decision to allow the licensee 127 megalitres in a drought year.

This baffled local landholders who are used to their water allocations being cut, not increased, in dry spells.

Cherrabah Resort project manager Joe Cheng Zhou confirmed yesterday a request for review had been submitted.

Mr Zhou said they were acting on the advice of their consultant but would not comment on whether they were asking for more water.

Liam O'Dea is one of the local landholders who has submitted RTI requests and said he hoped to receive documents in July.

DERM has extended the application period until 20 business days after they receive the outcome of the RTI application or August 15, whichever is sooner.

When Mr O'Dea heard of the Cherrabah developer's decision to also appeal, he said he was “surprised to say the least”.

“It really never occurred to me they would do that,” he said.

A heated meeting was held at Murray's Bridge School last month where objectors had the chance to put their concerns to the men responsible for making the decision.

Though initially pipped as a private meeting between DERM and submitters, a group of Southern Downs Regional Councillors, other concerned residents – both from the surrounding area and some from as far away as Dalveen – also attended.

In February 2008, Southern Downs Regional Council pre-approved an application, subject to conditions, from Joyful View Garden Real Estate Development Resort Co P/L for development of the area as a tourist facility for up to 4000 guests.

Following last month's meeting, individual councillors have since expressed concern over the size of this development and the uncertainty over the reliability of the water source.

If the water does dry up, council fears it will be left to foot the bill of piping town water.



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