Sewerage Scheme hits fan

Kempsey Shire Council


I am writing this special message from the mayor to convey a very disappointing development.

In late October your Councillors and I were briefed on an appalling development that saw NSW government legislation derail Council’s work to deliver a pressure sewerage scheme for Stuarts Point, Grassy Head and Fishermans Reach.

Due to state government legislation that was poorly written in 2011, we were informed that there will be a delay in delivering the project by 18 months.

I know, as do the Councillors and Council staff, how deeply frustrating and disappointing this will be for the community of Stuarts Point and its surrounds.

The legislation in question locked in a fixed amount of $30 million as the trigger to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), with no allowance for inflation during the ensuing years.

At the briefing all Councillors were unanimous in condemning this state government planning travesty.

We resolved to take whatever action possible to overcome this situation. Council staff and I have been working tirelessly to try and change the situation. Sadly, without success.

I think it is important that you know what has occurred.

On Saturday 22 October I attempted to call and discuss the issue with the local member for Oxley, Melinda Pavey. Her subsequent contact with the General Manager indicated that she was supportive in reaching out to the NSW Planning Minister, Anthony Roberts, to arrange a meeting as soon as possible. We understand she has raised this on the floor of parliament.

I also sought a meeting with the Planning Minister through the Office of the Local Government Minister.

When I met with the Minister for Local Government, Wendy Tuckerman, at the Local Government NSW Annual Conference, I was assured she would appeal to have a face-to-face meeting with the Planning Minister as soon as possible.

At the conference, with unanimous support from Councillors, I also submitted a late motion to overturn this legislation to the Conference. When put to the vote of the delegates from the 128 Councils, it gained unanimous support. It is now LGNSW policy however this does not itself impact the legislation.

Shortly after the conference I was informed that Minister Roberts “has limited availability in his diary” however a video conference was arranged with one of his staff members and a member of the planning department.

This meeting occurred a month after the first advice of the situation was given to me by Council Staff. Attending that meeting on Tuesday 22 November were senior Council staff, five Planning Department staff and the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Minister.

My main message to them was that this delay was the result of poor legalisation, and it is unacceptable for all the Shire Community, especially the people at Stuarts Point.

I related the trauma and ongoing fear of rising ground water levels with every rain event for that part of our Shire Community.

We were assured that the Minister and the Planning staff would look at any option to overturn the requirement for an EIS.

That was more than a week ago. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there has been no reply to the request despite numerous requests for an update, including earlier today.

Council staff, your Councillors and I will continue to seek Government support for amending the legislation. We will also seek support from all candidates at the next State election in March.

Attached is a fact sheet that we will be distributing to every letter box in Stuarts Point and surrounding areas in the coming days.

I urge you to read this fact sheet and to contact your local member Melinda Pavey as well as the relevant ministers to petition them for this change.

/Public Release. View in full here.