The next instalment of the seemingly never-ending fluoride saga has been set for March 14-18 next year in the Land and Environment Court.
Lismore resident and anti-fluoride activist Al Oshlack has challenged the decision by Rous Water and Ballina Shire Council to build five dosing plants for the region’s water supply.
The case is the first time in NSW that the fluoridation of a domestic water supply has been challenged.
The court has granted Mr Oshlack the right to subpoena Councillor David Yarnall, who voted in favour of approving the REF (Review of Environmental Factors), which should have been the final hurdle for Rous to build the plants. But Cr Yarnall said at the time of the April meeting that he felt pressured by the legal advice obtained by Rous that individual councillors could be personally liable for any breaches of the Local Government Act if the process was delayed, and also pressure from NSW Health. (His vote tied the Rous council at 4/4 and the decision to approve the REF was carried on chairman Col Sullivan’s casting vote).
Cr Yarnall told The Echo he had not yet been served the subpoena, but said the case would be an opportunity to examine the vote taken by the Rous council.
“We were compelled by the Department of Health to put fluoride in, so I have questioned why the vote was necessary at all. We were told we had to vote this way or else, which seems a strange situation to be placed in as a representative of a democratic organisation,” Cr Yarnall said.
Mr Oshlack said the legal bills for Rous could amount to $250,000.
“This is only the beginning, as no matter the decision in the Land and Environment Court it will go on to Appeal and possibly the High Court, which means we are speaking of a legal bill approaching a million dollars,” he said. “What is particularly galling is that Rous has put on affidavits from a string of very expensive expert witnesses, when in March they claimed it was too expensive to follow their own consultant’s advice to obtain an eco toxicological report on the impact of fluoride into receiving waters, before they made their decision.
“This has become bigger than Texas… they know I’m not going to stop. There are a lot of people in the community who just don’t want fluoride and I’ve got a lot of community support.”