Shire conference rejects Clarence diversion plan
By MARY MANN
A PROPOSAL to divert water from the Clarence River was slammed at the annual NSW Shires?? Association conference in Sydney yesterday.
Kyogle mayor Cr Ernie Bennett attended the conference and said he was pleased with an amendment that he said took the focus away from the hotly-debated water diversion plan.
??The amendment basically asked the Federal Minister to address current and future concerns of water shortages in all towns and cities throughout the State,?? Cr Bennett said.
??There was quite some debate.
??It had the potential to divide the association.
??I was happy with the amendment because it took away the impact of trying to divert the Clarence River, and put the focus on looking at the issue as a whole.??
The conference, which was held in Sydney over the past three days, was attended by more than 400 NSW councillors, council staff and sponsors.
??Burke Shire Council talked about diverting 900,000 mega litres of water from the Clarence and irrigating 130,000 hectares of land,?? Cr Bennett said.
Representatives from Burke Shire Council had also argued the project would also create about 500 jobs.
??But my argument is that if we have a resource that can be harvested to do that, why would we give it to someone else,?? Cr Bennett said.
He said an ideal situation would be if water could be diverted from the head of the Clarence and Richmond rivers to areas in dire straits, but then ??flow back?? the other way when North Coast communities were in drought.
??It should be about helping one another,?? he said.
Lismore City Councillor John Chant, who represented the Richmond River Flood Mitigation Council at the conference, said he was also happy with the amendment.
However, he said he expected there to be more debate about the proposal to divert water from the Clarence River.