Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kangaloon Borefield to be "Shelved"

Well, it looks and sounds like Good News about the Kangaloon Aquifer, for a change. NSW Water Minister, Mr Nathan Rees announced on Wednesday 18 June that the Upper Nepean Borefield Proposal would be "put on the shelf". At least it is better than being told that the Borefield is to go ahead.

In Mr. Rees's Press Release, Mr. Matt Brown, the Member for Kiama acknowledged the strong community opposition to the project. Almost as an after-thought, Mr. Rees acknowledged that there was never much water to be gained from the project for Sydney, and that with the De-sal plant to come on line in 18 months, they simply do not need the Kangaloon Borefield.

Well, we should be gracious in welcoming the Minister's decision, but he does go to some pains to keep the door open for the project to be reactivated at some point in the future.

Over our dead bodies, Mr Rees!

The project is, was and always will be a total waste of taxpayers' money, and a dangerous experiment with one of the few "intact" parts of the Sydney Sandstone ecosystem. It is precious as an "environmental capsule", and must be maintained as such – not destroyed.

The Upper Nepean and Avon catchments should be immediately declared a National Park or Nature Reserve, and handed over to the National Parks and Wildlife Service for professional environmental management. Detailed plans were drawn up for exactly that to happen - a long time ago – by Helen Latham, on behalf of the NPA. The "Latham Report" is still available on the
NPA's website. If the NSW Government has forgotten that those plans ever existed I would be happy to provide them with fresh copies. They are more relevant today than ever.

Christmas Bells - at Butler's Swamp


On behalf of the Save Water Alliance and the other groups which have opposed this plan all along, may I thank first of all, the generous members of the local Southern Highlands community who have supported us by coming to public meetings in Robertson and Bowral. I wish to mention those who put bumper stickers on their cars, and the landholders of Kangaloon whose "no
borefield" signs were torn down prior to the NSW Election by partisan political activists. Those incidents of politically motivated vandalism inspired us to greater endeavours.

So, in retrospect, we should thank Mr. Brown's (alleged) campaign assistants for their assistance in our Anti-Borefield campaign. Their mistake was in not recognizing that our campaign was not partisan (it never was), but was factually based. Along the way, we have had support from candidates from Labor Party (except in the Kiama electorate), the Greens (at State and local
level), the Liberal Party and from the Climate Change Coalition, as well as numerous independent candidates in both the State and Federal election campaigns.

I wish to thank specifically the dairy farmers and potato growers of Kangaloon, Robertson and Burrawang who gave us enough funds to commission a report from professional hydrologist, Mr. Ray Evans. Ray's report provided the necessary facts and figures which we needed to convince the Federal Government that the SCA had its computer modelling wrong. From that point
onwards, we were on our way to convincing the former Environment Minister, Mr. Malcolm Turnbull to declare the Upper Nepean Borefield project a "Controlled Action" under the Federal environment legislation. Mr. Turnbull was persuaded, partly by our submissions, but also, no doubt by the numerous private messages he received from influential Southern Highlands residents.

Mr. Turnbull signed the all–important order on 13 July 2007. It means that the borefield proposal cannot (even now) go ahead without Federal Government approval. The NSW Government appears to have conveniently forgotten that legal hurdle. We have not!

Rare, golden form of Christmas Bells
growing at Butler's Swamp, Kangaloon

Next I wish to thank the various peak Environmental Lobby groups, such as the Nature Conservation Council, the Total Environment Centre, the Wilderness Society, the National Parks Association (NPA), Rivers SOS, and the Colong Foundation, which have all assisted the groups working against the Upper Nepean (Kangaloon) Borefield. Special mention should be made of the long-suffering members of the Upper Nepean Borefield Community Reference Group, and Leon Hall, President of the Robertson Environment Protection Society, and Mr. Jonathan Bell of the NSW Farmers Association.

Subsequently, when preparing the response to the Environment Assessment, we were supported by the "Friends of the NSW Farmers", in commissioning a further report from Mr. Ray Evans. We thank them for their financial support for Mr. Evans' second report.

Naturally, I wish to thank Ray for his excellent research and sound technical advice in support of our "cause" – the future well-being of the Kangaloon Aquifer. I also wish to thank Prof. Gavan McDonell for his wise counsel and guidance as we have stumbled along the steep path of this

The Member for Goulburn, Ms. Pru Goward has strongly supported the anti-borefield campaign, and we thank her for her support. We just need to convince the NSW Government to completely write off the borefield as a wasteful project and a dangerous environmental folly, not just play with words, like "putting it on the shelf". Abandon it now. Mr. Rees. Do not waste another cent on the Upper Nepean (Kangaloon) Borefield project.

I acknowledge Mr. Phil Herd, who initiated the Save Water Alliance. Without his energy and enthusiasm today's result might never have been achieved. I offer my thanks to Phil and the other members of our original Steering Committee, particularly Liz G, Liz H, Vicky, and Jonathan.

Finally, to the current members of our Committee, and our loyal volunteers, I wish to express my deepest gratitude for their on-going support, enthusiasm and efforts.

Denis Wilson


Save Water Alliance

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