Development, Mining and Water in the Hunter

Three things have stood out in the NSW Hunter Valley’s news this week, Development, Mining and Water.


We’ve had multiple calls from the public and editors for the NSW Minister for Planning Mr Frank Sartor to reconsider the process for approving residential developments. This is on the back of proposed developments such as Catherine Hill Bay that have been pushed through the development process under the guise of “Sate Significant Development”, thus allowing the Minister for Planning to take all approvals responsibility away from the local council, in this case two councils, (both who appear opposed to the development in it’s current form), and giving it all to his own department.

It is obvious that the developers in question at Catherine Hill Bay have a lot of influence with the Minister for Planning, and this arrangement entirely suits them. It avoids the sticky local politics presented in many small coastal communities and allows developments to be viewed and assessed from the supposedly neutral ground of the Minister for Planning’s desk. More after the jump…

Unfortunately, the public consultation process is not functioning appropriately, with vocal opposition from several quarters, there seems little chance of a major change in how things will get done. Is it time to lower expectations? Money is a powerful driver, those in power are obviously influenced by those with money, sometimes it is better to receive small gains rather than lose the farm against the corporations of this world.



Reports this week confirming modeling that shows Hunter Valley mining contributed to the geological instability that caused the Newcastle Earthquake. Can’t say it surprises me, and I can’t imagine it’s good news for the many mining applications that are underway in the various Government Departments. Another nail in the coffin of Coal Fired Power Plants?


Despite the recent cooler weather over the Christmas break water supply and drought remains one of the hottest topics in NSW, and Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald ran a special called, “Scorched Earth” which covered many different aspects of the current crisis, and acts as a taxonomy for the topic. The debate rages over the Tillegra Dam proposal, with Hunter Water Corporation pushing for the infrastructure to be built to ensure centralized, controlled supply of water, compared with rainwater tanks on residential housing, over which they have very little control.

I predict that the dam will be built, Sydney will take all the water and we’ll be having the same discussion again in 20 years time, and at that stage, rainwater tanks will be the preferred solution, rather than dam up the next valley.

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Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

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