The Wagaitear; NewspaperNT
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Wagait Beach (N.T.) -- Periodicals; Cox Peninsula (N.T.) -- Periodicals
v. 12 no. 10
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4 The Wagaitear, October 2013 An oil and gas exploration permit and a suggestion to turn part of the sports ground into a caravan park dominated the first 40 minutes of Septembers Wagait Shire Council meeting. Ally Richmond addressed the council about a likely proposal by NT Gas Australia to lodge an application to explore for oil and gas in an area bounded by Darwin River, the north-western edge of Litchfield National Park, Dundee and the Cox Peninsula, including Wagait Beach. She told councillors the companys activities included looking for shale oil and gas which, if found, could mean extracting them by fracking. We cant prevent mining companies coming on to (private) land and drilling, Ally said. Exploring for shale gas requires many drilling sites going down between 1 and 3 km. The real risks for Wagait Beach is our water source, contamination of the aquifer and the value of peoples property. Where chemicals are used, only between 30 and 80 per cent is recovered. She said the Territory legislation provided little protection for land owners with oil and gas explorers not bound by waste management or pollution control laws. Theres an objection period of two months (after the exploration application is advertised), Ally explained. (The miners) have the right to occupy land, access the work site by the most direct means and provide access to staff and machinery. The real concern for people in the local area is compensation (which) is pretty minimal. We understand there are ap plications over 90 per cent of the Territory. If we cant stop it here the rest of the Territory is in real trouble. Ally said a local group had been set up to investigate and monitor what was happening, with a public meeting planned for the near future. She suggested that the council also investigate what could or could not happen in the event of a successful application. There was no further discussion after Ally left the meeting. Wagait Beach Supermarket co owner Chris Chaplin also spoke to the council about his proposal for the shire to establish a 20bay caravan park at the sports ground. I reckon theres growing support for this sort of thing, he said. I see an opportunity for the council to establish an asset in the absence of private enterprise. In Streaky Bay in South Australia, the council owns the asset and it is run by a private operator. He said the council charged the operator a lease fee that added to council income. Matt Prouse agreed there was a need for some form of tourist park but did not agree the sports ground was appropriate. We need to find somewhere else for it, he said. The sports ground is hardly the MCG but if we changed the use (for caravans) it would impede further development for sports. Lisa-Marie Stones said her inquiries had shown many councils successfully operated caravan parks: Its the councils role to develop the community. Shire president Trish McIntyre warned there were many things to consider before the council became involved. Its a huge ask (sic) for a council with 2.7 staff members to run it, she said. Its worth looking at but I believe this is a private business and Id rather see it go out to private investment. Peter Clee praised the idea as a really good concept. Id like to see some costings, he said. I agree the sports ground area is not the right spot, the infrastructure is inadequate, but we should have a look at it because definitely something is needed here. Chris suggested setting up a steering committee to develop a business plan although he declined to be part of it due to a lack of time. Shenagh Gamble argued against the council taking the initiative for such a committee. For the council to develop a business case and go out and see if private investment (is interested) is all about face, she said. Chief executive Michael Campaign expressed concern about child safety with many local children using the sports ground unsupervised and no way to check people who hired sites. The pub already has (a camping/van park), he said. Id hate to see us go ahead and then the pub develops one. While there appeared to be overall support for the concept, most councillors did not appear enthusiastic about using ratepayers funds for the project. Back on more mundane council matters, Michael noted that an occupational health and safety check on council operations was not all good news. The workshop is a disaster area waiting for an accident, he said. Theres gear all over the place. He said work was underway to sort out what was what and improve the safety of the work area. Michael also asked for direction about how to recover some $11 000 owed by a small group of recalcitrant ratepayers. Weve sent out letters of demand but theres about 11 outstanding, he explained. I dont know what to do except put it in the hands of the debt collector. One person offered $20 a month hes got two blocks and it wasnt worth it, it wouldnt cover the interest. The debt collector option received a tick with all costs involved to be added to the outstanding rates. After a brief burst of hope, the long-running memorial garden project remains stalled. The memorial garden is going nowhere, Shenagh said. There was money there but we dont know how much. Peter Clee supplied the answer: Its about $16 000 and its in with the reserves somewhere. People dont particularly care what it looks like, they just want it to happen, Shenagh added. The latest idea involves a bush garden with small frames to accommodate name plaques. Gas exploration and Caravan park discussed Last month's council report Robyns rec corner For the week of the school holidays the timetable is as follows: Wednesday October 2: Darwin trip to the cimena and shopping at Casuarina. Thursday October 3: craft day at the sports ground Friday October 4: ten pin bowling at Nightcliff. To book activities and ask general questions phone Robyn on 0487 750 113. After the holidays the normal timetable resumes: Monday: sewing at the Community Centre from 4 - 5.30 pm. Tuesday: sports at the sports ground from 4 - 6 pm and playing with Belyuen children from 5 - 6 pm. Wednesday: sport at the sports ground from 4 - 5.30 pm. Thursday: sport at the sports ground from 4 - 5.30 pm Friday: cooking at the community centre until cooked. Saturday: littlies program from 10 - 11 am Movie Night: every second Saturday at the community centre. Little kids movie starts at 6 pm Older kids movie starts at 7.30 pm. Please bring food to share, drinks will be provided. The next movie night will be Saturday October 5. After a tip off from a Wagait Beach local that coding inspections were being conducted on dwellings in Dundee the Wagaitear made enquiries. The department of lands and planning responded by saying Building Advisory Services does not conduct random coding inspections of buildings. No inspections are planned for Wagait Beach. Earlier this year in March inspections were undertaken of some properties at Dundee Beach as a result of a complaint concerning unapproved building works. No inspections for Wagait