Public shut out of fluoride debate

A BALLINA group opposed to the introduction of fluoride into the water supply says Rous Water has not undertaken sufficient public consultation on the subject.

Ballina Shire Council voted last March to introduce fluoridation, and last month Rous Water called for submissions on how it was to build and operate the four proposed fluoridation plants.

The time-frame for submissions – between December 23 and January 18 – has been described as ‘totally inadequate and inappropriate’ by the Ballina Fluoridation Free Network.

Spokesperson Ilga Sleja has written to Rous Water asking for that time to be extended so concerned residents can view the report into the plants’ development and prepare proper submissions.

“For many, this is the busiest time of year, coinciding with school holidays. Many families leave the area or are preoccupied with the holiday season,” she said.

Rous Water had left only 10 working days for submissions to be filed, Ms Sleja said.

“This is hardly enough time to read your proposal/report properly, let alone to submit submissions by your deadline,” Ms Sleja wrote.

The network would also like Rous Water to consider input from environmental ecologists.

Ms Sleja said that consultation with the public had been inadequate all the way along the line.

“It’s been a one-sided argument and people haven’t been given a choice,” she said.

She said the network hoped to have the council decision reversed.

Rous Water’s call for submissions related to ‘the appearance of the buildings, landscaping, traffic movements, noise and general public safety’, general manager Kyme Lavelle said.

A review of environmental factors has been prepared covering the construction and operation of the plants and has been placed on public exhibition with an invitation for the public to comment.

But Ms Sleja said the report needed to be posted in PDF format for electronic public access on the Rous website, as the network had 2000 signatories objecting to fluoridation who may not be able to get to Lismore to view the proposal.

“Therefore we request that copies are made available for viewing at the Ballina Shire Council Chambers,” she said.

No one from Rous Water was available for comment yesterday.

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