Katherine area residents have today called on the Gunner Government to undertake a full environmental assessment of the proposed Tarwoo cotton gin, following revelations that the proponents have started construction before obtaining planning and environmental approvals.
Satellite imaging* has revealed that vegetation clearing started on the site in July 2021, the same month that proponents submitted an application for planning approval to clear 197 hectares of native vegetation.
Long term Edith Farms resident Lori Martin lives next door to the site and said the rush for clearing is disrespectful to the communities who will be affected if the gin goes ahead.
“People like myself have been left completely in the dark about how this industrial facility will impact on local residents and the natural environment.
“By forging ahead without waiting for the government to reach a decision on their planning application, industry is showing a blatant disregard for local concerns. There’s too much at stake to rush this,” said Ms Martin.
Katherine resident Shirley Crane expressed her concerns at the impact of a massive increase in cotton cropping on the Daly and Katherine River catchments.
“Our rivers are the lifeblood of our region. Our lifestyles rely on our environment, and it’s critical we look after our rivers in the face of industry expansion plans,” said Ms Crane.
“With industry spruiking the potential for rapid expansion of cotton cropping across the region, many people have been concerned about what this will mean for our rivers.”
“We need the NT Government to urgently intervene to ensure that the cotton gin and associated expansion of cotton cropping don’t go ahead without full environmental assessment and appropriate community consultation,” said Ms Crane.
“Hundreds of Territorians have called on the NT EPA to call in this proposal for a full environmental assessment,” said Pew Charitable Trusts NT Manager Mitch Hart.
“Territorians should be able to trust that our government will do the job of protecting our water and landscapes for the future – and that the cotton industry should do better than this if it wants to earn the community’s trust,” he said.
*Sentinel 2-L2A satellite data provided by Sinergise Laboratory for geographical information systems Ltd, EO Browser (accessed on October 3).