Appeal Court fixes water date
STANLEY’S appeal against a Victorian Supreme Court decision which last year allowed commercial groundwater extraction for bottled water production to proceed on the Stanley plateau will be heard in Melbourne on October 26.
Stanley Rural Community Incorporated – a not-for-profit organisation which advocates for the village and farming district – has raised a $30,000 surety through numerous community campaigns to provision against costs.
The surety was sought by Stanley Pastoral, a company controlled by the Carey family which in turn operates Black Mount Spring Water.
The company was licensed by GoulburnMurray water late in 2013 to take and use 19 megalitres of groundwater for commercial purposes from a small property which it owns south of Stanley.
It trucks the water to Albury where is used for bottled water production.
The long-running dispute began Indigo Shire Council rejected a planning application from the company because the council believed its planning scheme expressly shielded Stanley’s high quality agricultural land from development.
The Careys then appealed that decision in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which allowed the water enterprise to proceed.
The Stanley community then pursued the matter into the Supreme Court, but Justice Michael McDonald dismissed the community’s case when he determined that Stanley Pastoral did not require a permit from Indigo council to take the water.
The court recounted VCAT reasoning that the planning scheme did not include a specific provision, which the council was empowered to have under the Planning and Environment Act, naming groundwater extraction as a land use for which a planning permit would be required.
Justice McDonald said that section 8 of the Water Act gave Stanley Pastoral a statutory right at the time the G-MW licence was issued to take and use the water, as licensed.
SRCI is appealing Justice McDonald’s judgement.
Mr Tyrie yesterday said it was “good to have a date for the (Appeal Court) hearing”.
“It will determine this matter once and for all,” he said.
“It’s been a long haul and the community will finally have its day in court.”