An historic property deal between MidCoast Water and the Forster Aboriginal Land Council was made official at a function attended by the NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
Leslie Williams MP was at Pebbly Beach, Forster at 10am Thursday 2 July to mark the significance of a negotiated land dealing that will see MidCoast Water bestow a perpetual right of cultural access to members of the land council incorporated into the sale of a large tract of land for the purposes of securing water supplies for the Manning and Great Lakes communities.
“This is a significant moment, for us, our community and the Forster Local Aboriginal Land Council,” MidCoast Water’s acting general manager Brendan Guiney said.
The land, located at Nabiac, was previously sand mined Crown land and was returned to the Aboriginal community as part of successful Aboriginal land claims by the Forster Aboriginal Land Council in the 1990s.
“We have spent a number of years negotiating the purchase of 1600 hectares of Forster Local Aboriginal Land Council land to be able to progress a major water security project for the mid north coast community – the development of the Nabiac Inland Dune Aquifer.
“As part of our ongoing management plan for the land we will ensure it is protected and will work to maintain and improve the natural biodiversity of the site,” Mr Guiney explained.
The $32 million Nabiac borefield and water treatment plant project will provide the community with several significant advantages, including a diversity of supply in the event of problems with the Manning source, additional capacity, lower pumping costs to Forster and Tuncurry and will reduce the demand on Bootawa Dam.
“The sale of this land will allow the Forster Aboriginal Land Council to invest funds into significant social and economic development projects to support our local Aboriginal community and provide the land council with financial security.” Forster Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO Dan Rose said.
“We are proud of the negotiation process that has taken place to bring about this land sale,”
“Not only have we been able to work with MidCoast Water to avoid a costly adversarial process, we are proud to maintain a right of cultural access to our members to allow them to walk the land, fish and gather from the site while MidCoast Water has secured the land for the essential public purpose of community water supply.”
The Forster Aboriginal Land Council will retain the Medika Nursery site which is located within the area for further employment opportunities.
According to the chairperson of the Forster Local Aboriginal Land Council, Vince Hall, the sale of the land to MidCoast Water was a “win-win situation for all concerned.”
“The agreement also includes MidCoast Water withdrawing objections to land claims lodged by the Forster Local Aboriginal Land Council on crown land near the southern area of the parcel of land purchased by MidCoast Water.”
The land dealing coincides with a number of recent positive announcements for MidCoast Water, including infrastructure funding announcements of $9.6 million towards the Nabiac Inland Dune Aquifer from the Australian Government and $19 million from the NSW Government under the Country Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Program towards the Myall Lakes Electorate.