Powers handed to State Govt

The Ensham Mine levee banks, reconstructed after the devastation of 2008, held during last November’s flooding of the Comet river system.
The Ensham Mine levee banks, reconstructed after the devastation of 2008, held during last November’s flooding of the Comet river system.

THE onslaught of coal exploration and mining in the Nogoa River flood plain, as well as recent floods and the controversial placement of levee banks, has led to the dissolution of the river's flood plain board.

Current president and Central Highlands Mayor, Cr Peter Maguire, found support for the recommendation at Monday's council meeting when he proposed power to administer the flood plain be passed to the State Government.

The Nogoa River Flood Plain Board was established in 1997 and has approved 14 levee banks on the advice of SunWater in preparing hydraulic assessments.

"The reality of the present situation is the board simply does not have the resources, either in people, finances, or indeed, authority to properly and completely manage the flood plain," a report prepared for council said.

"The flood plain model was set up to deal with a one in 20-year flood event.

"There is the real possibility of increasing legal actions facing the board together with the request to extend the board area and becoming involved in approval of structures that may have been originally addressed by the State Government."

The board was ignored by the Co-ordinator General's department in 2008 when it declared the reconstruction of the failed Ensham Mine levees a "prescribed project" and issued appropriate permits.

"We've got the best people in the world (on the board) but if the State Government can approve a coal mine in the middle of a flood plain… it's got nothing to do with us," Cr Maguire said.

"People can just go to DERM anyway."

Since the 2008 flooding of the region, the board has been to court twice.

Approving the second stage of the Ensham Mine levee banks was one of its most controversial decisions.

"The establishment of Ensham Mine and the likelihood of further mines on and above the flood plain will create hydrological, land-use and economic complexities on farms and potentially Emerald town that are beyond the scope of the board," the report said.

"Additional mines could have far greater impact on the farmland than Ensham Mine."

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