Water mine decision for tribunal

A DISPUTE over water mining at a Stanley orchard is heading to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Tim Carey, who owns an orchard on Cue Springs Road, has been granted a commercial water mining licence by Goulburn- Murray Water.

Residents have opposed plans for a water transfer station on the site, which would see groundwater drawn and bottled, over environment and supply concerns.

A permit for a water transfer station will be considered by Indigo Council today, but Mr Carey has bypassed the council by appealing to the tribunal.

“The council has missed the boat,” he said.

“It’s only the planning part that needs to be sorted out and because the council wouldn’t make a decision, VCAT are going to do that now.

“The council planners have assessed it and the recommendation was to approve it.”

A date for the hearing has not been set, and Mr Carey said it could take up to six months to proceed.

“We believe the application will go through,” he said.

“We would have preferred to work through it with council, but they’ve been unwilling to work with us on it.”

A compromise would be reached on some of the issues raised by objectors, Mr Carey said.

“We’re always happy to work with them,” he said.

“We’ll take the objections on board.”

More than 400 people have joined a Facebook page opposing water bottling in the area.

Indigo mayor Bernard Gaffney said there had been more than 200 written submissions made to the council calling for the plan to be rejected.

“The council will make a decision today either to grant or reject the application,” he said.

“I’ve got an open mind, as I’m sure all the councillors have, and they will make up their mind during the debate at the council meeting.

“The decision that council makes would certainly have an impact on any hearing at VCAT.”

Cr Gaffney said 50 to 60 people were expected to attend the meeting at the Beechworth Memorial Hall, which will also cover budget submissions.