Wa­ter rul­ing to­day

Alpine Observer - - News - By JAMIE KRONBORG

THE Vic­to­rian Court of Ap­peal will this morn­ing de­liver a de­ci­sion that could have far-reach­ing im­pli­ca­tions for com­mer­cial ground­wa­ter use in North East and other farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties in the state.

The ap­pel­late judges will make pub­lic their rul­ing in a case brought by the small farm­ing com­mu­nity of Stan­ley against a De­cem­ber 2016 judge­ment by the Supreme Court in which it up­held a Vic­to­rian Civil and Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tribunal de­ci­sion to al­low com­mer­cial ground­wa­ter ex­trac­tion for bot­tled wa­ter fill to pro­ceed in In­digo shire.

The de­ci­sion may also have im­pli­ca­tions for shared plan­ning scheme changes sub­se­quently pro­posed by Alpine, In­digo and Towong coun­cils to limit the im­pact on lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties of ground­wa­ter ex­trac­tion for off-site – or off-farm – com­mer­cial use.

Stan­ley Ru­ral Com­mu­nity In­cor­po­rated – an mem­ber-based or­gan­i­sa­tion which ad­vo­cates the pro­tec­tion of Stan­ley’s rich agri­cul­tural and hor­ti­cul­tural farm­ing heritage – ap­pealed the Supreme Court de­ci­sion in Oc­to­ber.

It was the most re­cent le­gal move in a lon­grun­ning dis­pute in which In­digo coun­cil and SRCI have con­tested a 2013 de­ci­sion by Goul­burn-Mur­ray Wa­ter to is­sue a com­mer­cial ground­wa­ter li­cence to a pri­vate com­pany called Stan­ley Pas­toral.

In a sep­a­rate move, Alpine, In­digo and Towong coun­cils sub­se­quently de­vised an amend­ment to each of their plan­ning schemes that, if ap­proved, would ap­ply to de­vel­op­ers seek­ing to take wa­ter for use as bot­tled wa­ter fill or off-site for other com­mer­cial pur­poses.

Pub­lic sub­mis­sions com­ment­ing on the pro­posed amend­ment – re­leased by the coun­cils a month ago – must be re­ceived by close of busi­ness to­mor­row.

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