ACTING Shadow Water Minister Sally Talbot has criticised the State Government for refusing to extend the closing date for public submissions regarding the granting of a water licence for Karara Mining.
Karara Mining has applied to the Department of Water for a licence to use the remaining 5.3 gigalitres, or 86 per cent of water, in the Parmelia Aquifer at Mingenew.
Member for the Agricultural Region Mia Davies recently tabled a petition drafted by local farmer Peter Horwood asking the Legislative Council to consider the environmental risk and the impact on agricultural and non-agricultural diversification if the quantity of water applied for under a water licence was used.
The closing date for public submissions was extended from December 31 to January 31.
Ms Talbot said she had written to Water Minister Bill Marmion before Christmas to request a further extension to March 31 because Karara Mining had just released a large amount of new information.
"My view was that was absolutely inadequate because you've got a whole lot of technical information being released publicly for the first time," she said.
"You also had all these farming communities throughout the Mid West who were all in the middle of their harvest and it was coming up to Christmas."
Ms Talbot said farmers were unable to talk to professional experts about the complicated hydrological data over that period, as they were not available over Christmas and New Year.
She said the tight deadline was creating a lot of concern in the community and handing over 86pc of potable water to the mining industry would remove future options for the use of that water.
"Some people have talked about aquaculture and several other projects that would involve the use of that water," she said.
Ms Talbot said expansion of the area population-wise would be affected and the community needed much more reassurance that the proper planning had been done.
"People are rapidly losing any sense of trust in the process as it is being played out because they are suspicious of the company's intentions when it comes to this application," she said.
Mingenew farmer Peter Horwood said the issue was bigger than Mingenew because it set a precedent for the State.
He said there would be no benefit for the local community because the water was effectively being shifted 100km east.
He said inaccuracies in Karara Mining's information regarding the location of the Urella faultline meant that more wetlands were potentially endangered than originally thought.
Mr Horwood said the Department of Water found the correct location within half an hour but the mining company which was spending millions of dollars did not get it right in the first place.
Mr Horwood said the pipeline, which is already being laid, was at the Geraldton wharf even before the first community meeting regarding the issue.
"Then you've got to sit down and think 'when was this ordered?" he said.
"You're dealing with pipe about two foot in diameter so it's not something you walk down to Bunnings and pick up a truckload of."