Water Win for Coca-Cola - Residents Slam Court
Mangrove Mountain residents have accused the Land and Environment
Court of giving up crucial water supplies for corporate profit after
they lost their David-and-Goliath battle against Coca-Cola.
Residents are furious the court approved the drinks giant's plans
to nearly triple the amount of water it extracts from Peats Ridge
Commissioner Tim Moore has been accused of ignoring decades of research
into ground water and vegetation by residents in favour of computer-generated
data produced by paid consultants who do not know the area.
Extraction will be increased from 25 million litres to 66 million
litres of ground water per year, with 24-hour-a-day operation except
The only relief residents were able to get from the court was that
the increased water extraction was approved on a two-year trial basis.
The approval came despite Coca-Cola admitting there was no way it
could predict the full impact of increased extraction on ground water.
Residents led by the Azzopardi family, whose property is next door
to the Peats Ridge water-bottling plant, took over the fight against
the expansion after Gosford council backed down.
Mangrove Mountains District Community Group secretary Margaret Pontifex
said a distinct loss of vegetation in the area proved water supplies
"I used to think the Land and Environment Court was for the community
and the environment, but don't you believe it," she said. "It is for
big bucks and big business."
Victor and Jane Azzopardi estimated their legal expenses at more than
Mrs Azzopardi said her family relied on the water supply to irrigate
their vegetable crops.
"It is very disheartening," she said, adding that a further legal
challenge was being considered.
Coca-Cola group corporate affairs manager Alec Wagstaff said the company
wanted to increase production "almost immediately", pending any other
"It [the court] found comprehensively there was no link between this
extraction and the local water supply," Mr Wagstaff added.
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