About NRG

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The Northern Rivers Guardians

  • lobby and work for appropriate development in the Northern Rivers of NSW.
  • lobby and work against inappropriate development
  • emphasise that appropriate development requires being sensitive to environmental needs
  • acknowledge that all development must account for community priorities and needs
  • support economic growth that complements the local area

Our current campaigns are focussed on

  • appropriate land use in the Northern Rivers
  • as part of this campaign we are working for appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks to ensure that land use decisions are appropriate in terms of community and cultural values, environmental values, developing industries that complement the local area.
  • a major component of this campaign is to stop coal seam gas mining from coming to the Northern Rivers

Sustainable water management

  • as part of this campaign we are promoting and lobbying for effective and sustainable water supply
  • demand strategies including larger rainwater tanks, recycling stormwater and waste water for use on gardens and in toilets, more sensitive use of available water and appropriate pricing mechanisms.
  • we are also opposing the development of a dam on Byrrill Creek and the raising of the wall of the existing Clarrie Hall Dam.

Join us in our fight for a sustainable Northern Rivers.

Please read the last NRG President’s Review of the Northern Rivers Guardians below…

NRG President’s Report for AGM 19 November 2011 by S. Sledge

Of all the challenges encountered as NRG President perhaps the hardest is to summarise the achievements of our organisation during the 17 months since the last AGM was held on 19th June 2010.
To report accurately on the many successes, small and large, of such a diverse organisation requires a review of the many contributions by many people over many months.This can only be a selective summary, because so much has been done by so many. I am reminded of a water feature where drops filling a container accumulate until a tipping point occurs causing a lever to fall suddenly.
Perhaps another analogy is appropriate, that of water dripping on stone. Over time the constant pressure from members of the community associated with No Rally Group wore away the resolve of the organisers of the World Rally Championship and exposed the truth behind their spin: The community would pay, a few would profit, and the world heritage values of our unique region would suffer.
For more than a year the community kept up a running debate. On 29th September 2010 CAMS announced it would move Rally Australia from this region to Coffs Harbour. What actually caused the shift is open to speculation but probably a combination of our media campaign, letters to politicians and organisers – as well as to rally sponsors- and the constant demonstrations that would appear anytime the rally people showed up all had something to do with the decision to move the smelly fossil fuel folly somewhere else. The editor of RallySport magazine summed it up as follows: “…the change in location had a lot to do with the FIA {in Paris}, who were known to be unhappy with the protest element at the event. Many of the sport’s top drivers were quoted as saying they didn’t want to go back to the event if it was held in the same location….”
After the announcement a Tweed Daily News poll asked “Are you sad to see Rally Australia move from the Tweed to Coffs Harbour?” 64% of respondents said “No.”
Fundraising has been a particularly successful aspect of our work. Many helpers contributed to the fundraising efforts, which focussed on supporting Katie Milne who sought in Sydney’s Federal Court on 27 August 2009 an injunction against the running of the Rally . The Judge awarded costs to the Rally organisers. Because Katie tried this late legal challenge on behalf of the community, NRG decided to support her by fundraising. Our Legal Fund was created and now has been capped at $20,000 and quarantined pending resolution of the matter. These fundraising events helped to bind the community together, keeping the issue in the public eye and provided a social focus for the No Rally campaign.
Name change – Following the decision to move the accursed Rally away from the Northern Rivers this organisation went through a process to determine whether to continue to act as a political lobby or to dissolve. In December 2010 a decision was reached to broaden our perspective to include areas outside the Tweed and to the change the objectives to delete specific reference to Repco Rally Australia. A new name – Northern Rivers Guardians – was chosen to reflect these changes (while retaining the political capital of the successful NRG brand.) A new logo created by artist member Chris Degenhardt shows a stylized globe supported by protective hands.
October 2010 – a few weeks after the rally relocation was announced Tweed Shire Council decided to build a dam at Byrrill Creek against advice from both staff and its own Community Working Group. Save Byrrill Creek (SBC) formed around Joanna Gardiner as Campaign Coordinator. A petition drive and letters to NSW Ministers resulted in Minister for Water Phillip Costa announcing on December 17th 2010 that the Water Sharing Plan “does not permit the construction of a new in-river dam on Byrrill Creek… based on the high environmental and world heritage values of the Byrrill Creek area.”
Our work promoting modern methods of water supply and conservation is on-going. In October of this year new Mayor Barry Longland used his casting vote to rescind the Council’s decision to build a dam at Byrrill Creek. We hope to have the Council-owned public land along Byrrill Creek included in a wildlife corridor for the Caldera Biosphere project which might protect it into the future.
During February to April of 2011 NRG promoted screenings of the Gaslands filmwhich raised awareness of the threat of Coal Seam Gas expanding into the Northern Rivers. The 17th April NRG meeting was attended by representatives a wide range of community groups, including the Canegrowers Association and the Tweed Combined Rural Industries Assn. These and others contributed support to a gathering and march in Murwillumbah on 14 th May, jointly organised by NRG and Caldera Environment Centre (CEC.) Around 3,000 people participated, which set the scene for the national AGM of the growing Lock The Gate Alliance (LTGA) hosted by NRG in Murwillumbah the following month. NRG has joined LTGA and now sends representatives to Lismore for regular area monthly meetings. Our own Michael MacNamara was elected to the LTGA Committee. Michael is Campaign Coordinator for our opposition to CSG mining and pipeline developments in this area…or indeed anywhere.
The threat to our water and air quality will continue to drive us as an activist organisation for some time yet, despite some solid progress, such as the recent announcement by the NSW ALP that they now support a complete halt to all CSG activity and the progress of the Greens and Independents towards renewable power solutions. NRG put in an excellent submission to the NSW Upper House Committee investigating all aspects of CSG and we organised demonstrations at Kyogle and Alstonville when the parliamentarians came for hearings. We have Peter Bennett a Tyalgum member to thank for his work on our submission. On 9th November 2010 a petition against CSG started by NRG was tabled in NSW Parliament by Tweed MP Geoff Provest: it contained nearly 4000 signatures.
NRG has supported local communities on a number of local issues. Our support for Chinderah residents contributed to Tweed Shire Council changing a plan to cover over a natural waterway to make an industrial driveway. We also supported the Hastings Point residents successful bid to retain 2- story height limits for their village. The current struggle to prevent unpopular developments at Cabarita has our support. We continue to monitor developers. These are but a few examples of the sort of work that we have and can accomplish.
Following the 2010 AGM in June, NRG agreed to establish focus groups which have acted as subcommittees. Daniele was coordinator for fundraising. The media team, headed by our Secretary Andrea Vickers, kept our viewpoint in play. Julie McNamara did a fine job in recruitment and membership climbed from about 60 to more than 450. Fiona McCormick looked after Community Relations and headed our Police liaison team. Joanna Gardiner focussed on Environment issues, especially in her role of Campaign Coordinator for Save Byrrill Creek. Janaki filled in for Joanna while she was away this year. Trish Mann coordinated lobbying. Rainer Glasker heads up the internet web team. Alan Roberts and the Nimbin Enviro Centre folk have taken on the training role for Non Violent Direct Action. Martin Munz and Eddie Houghton-Ward provided legal assistance. We are also grateful to the EDO for their helpful advice. I want to thank also our volunteer auditor Jeannie Anderson of Mayberry, Meldrum and Anderson, Murwillumbah.
Finally I want to thank all the people – too many to list – who have supplied leadership, especially the Committee for their willing participation, and Public Officer Michael MacNamara, our Co-Secretaries Andrea Vickers and Suzanne Gray and our Treasurer Megan Jack.
It is timely to announce the winner of this year’s SLEDGE AWARD. Because she has always been there with help and support for all our endeavours, and for providing the group with a reliable moral compass, I present the 2011 Sledge Award to Liffy Jack. Long may she run!
As much as anything I want to thank all NRG members for their manifold contributions of support in a wide variety of ways . Our members are responsible for our successes.
I will finish with a return to the water wearing down stone theme. Please continue to do what you can to insure a sustainable future – in whatever ways you can. The dripping of water will wear away stone and who knows – you may be the drip that achieves a breakthrough!
S. Sledge


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