Water ruling today
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.