Water carting operation lashed by councillors

A PITCH to harvest nearly 120ML of water from the Lockyer Valley has been dealt a blow, with the council refusing to give the developer a discount to make it happen.

Using two existing water bores, a new facility in Townson would fill up to a dozen trucks a day under the proposal.

Town planner Allan Van told the Gatton Star the plan was likely to sell the water for bottling.

In July the developer wrote to the Lockyer council requesting the application fee for the project to be slashed by nearly $40,000 to around $4000, claiming it was "excessive”.

Council officers had classed the proposal as an "extractive industry”, meaning a development application attracted the same fee as a mining operation producing more than 100,000 tonnes.

Mr Van said he accepted this was the only classification under the planning scheme that could be utilised, but the fee was too expensive.

"The applications fees are a disgrace - they're twice the price of anybody else in South East Queensland. ,” Mr Van said.

But Lockyer Valley Regional Council unanimously rejected the request for a discounted application fee at its meeting.

Councillor Rick Vela said he was concerned about the impact of giving concessions early in the application process.

"Going forward I have serious concerns about what they are proposing out there, and I certainly would not want to see us making allowances this early in the stage for something like this,” Cr Vela said.

Councillor Kathy McLean echoed his sentiments, fearing the impact of water being taken from the drought-ravaged region.

"I also have serious concerns, we are pushing our business users and everyone else to back the Lockyer Water Users case moving forward to bring water into the Valley, and here we look to be giving a discount to someone who's trying to truck water out of the Valley,” Cr McLean said.

"To me it's just a no brainer, why would we be in anyway trying to facilitate this?

"For me I cannot see the benefit of taking water out of the Valley specifically when they're trying to bring it in.”

A report prepared for the councillors found the fee was appropriate given the work the council would likely to have undertake during an assessment.

"Given the scale of the proposal and type of development, the application requires review of and assessment by officers in Council's Planning and Development section, Infrastructure Works and Services, Environment and Pest and Regional Development,” the report said.

"As council did not have the opportunity to undertake any initial discussions with the applicant during a pre-lodgement process, additional time is required to be spent during the application process.”

Mr Van disagreed.

"It's outrageous - it took me a week to make the application, it would take a planning officer at council ... two weeks,” he said.

In his view, the council had denied the discount request to prevent the application from moving forward.

"Council seem to have a mindset that they wouldn't approve it anyway,” he said.

He said his client was now considering the next step, but he said it was unlikely the application would move forward.