December 15, 2010

From an old-timer

One of our members just emailed me today saying:
Received a letter from an old resident today who stated that they mined on the eastern side of Mt Vincent a long time ago and used it for the trains but found that the trains ran out of puff, so they had a scientist try to find out why. When he was shown the crater up the top he said, ”why didn’t you tell me about this before?”
We live in hope!

December 13, 2010


That is the question.
Whether to dig it all up now, before a carbon tax is introduced, and by so doing destroy our precious water systems forever.
Or, by leaving it in the ground, protect them?

Seems like a no-brainer. What do you reckon???

December 7, 2010



In case you missed the advertisement in the Mudgee Guardian on 26 November, nominations have been called for 4 community representatives to be part of Community Liaison Committee. The Committee is set up by the Dept of Industry and Investment, by Minister Whan. He has appointed the Chair who is Margaret MacDonald Hill. Other members of the committee will be reps from the two councils (MWRC and Lithgow), Dept I&I/Mineral Resources Branch and Centennial Coal. With the chair and the 4 community reps that makes a total of nine people on the committee.

To quote the ad: Persons from within the community seeking to be appointed to the Committee are invited to submit a nomination in writing, expressing their interest, to:

Margaret MacDonald-Hill
Inglenook Exploration Community Liaison Committee
50 Castlereagh HighwayCapertee NSW 2846

Nominations close Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Please send in your nomination now. If lots of people nominate it will show the level of concern within the community.

November 28, 2010

Meeting with Centennial 18th November

On Wednesday 18th November some of your committee met with Centennial Coal (Beau Preston and John Sandona). Here are some notes from that meeting.
Key Points
Hydrogeologcal information will be collected as part of exploration drilling
Mining will happen – if the coal resource is adequate and price right, regardless of any impact on water
Mining plans are not yet formulated as need information from the drilling program
Open cut is a possibility as they are looking at all options
Water management plans are not done yet

Water Census
· Some 60 landholders have taken part.
· Centennial approached another 57 of which some have rejected participation, others are not interested or don’t have anything to measure and from some there has been no response at all. Centennial are confident they have a wide enough geographic spread to enable a good picture to be drawn of the water resource.
· Because of privacy issues Centennial rejected the idea of RSWUA approaching those who had not participated in order to encourage them to do so.
· Centennial could have stopped the study 3 weeks ago, but have chosen to extend it and hope it demonstrates they are not treating the water census as a token exercise.
· The water census is to provide: a)specific site information relevant to where actual drill holes would go and b) to draw a global picture and c) this data will provide the platform on which to build further water studies.
· Given that the current result is atypical because of the recent wet conditions, the exercise will be repeated. Water studies have to be done over a minimum of one year (part of exploration licence conditions).
· Flow studies and lack thereof was questioned, with response being that where flow could be measured it was done so. JS agreed to look into an instance where landholders were told a spot on Gibbons Ck could not be measured as it was outside the exploration lease area.
· The water census is not relevant to the drilling program. THERE WAS MUCH DISCUSSION AROUND THIS POINT. RSWUA questioned why Centennial were handing out access agreements for exploratory holes before they even had the results of the water census, let alone a full hydrogeological survey. Centennial’s response was that some people were happy to sign now and that it was possible to do things in parallel as it gives landholders time to consider special conditions and wording. Landholders were under no pressure. There will be no drilling until the water census report is finalised.
· Peter Docker raised fact that he had had no response to his August letter regarding access for water census. Centennial maintained a response had been drafted - but obviously it had never been sent.

Exploratory Drilling
· RSWUA again requested that a full hydrogeological survey being done before any exploratory drilling. RSWUA maintains that such a survey would involve a different drilling technique and pattern.
· Centennial maintained that the hydrogeological survey will be done over time and as part of the drilling program where presence of water as well as the rock strata will be recorded. It is their intent to do both at same time and they are being guided by a hydrogeologist.
· The full hydrogeological study is part of their study for the mine.
· Centennial were asked to put into writing their technical explanation of the drilling process with the geophysical and sonic logging that is done so that people can study it and understand the whole process. They agreed to do this.
· Centennial also agreed to have a public meeting where the overall results of the water census report could be presented and discussed. A hydrogeologist (Aquaterra) will be present at that meeting to answer technical questions.
· At the same time there will be a full technical explanation of the drilling and how this would provide adequate hydrological information. Before that meeting a full technical brief on the drilling (what and how) will be given to RSWUA.
· May need separate access agreement for monitoring if borehole becomes a pisometer (measure water depths).
· Compensation - are covered if can demonstrate compensable loss - NB the issues that are covered as compensable loss in the Mining Act DOES NOT SPECIFICALLY MENTION WATER
· Rehabilitation plans will be part of the Environmental Assessment which forms part of the mine application process
· Drilling not till water census completed and presented to the community.

Community Consultative Committee
· The Chairperson for this has been appointed – Margaret McDonald-Hill. Will be called a Community Liaison Committee (CLC) and will include a Dept of I&I rep plus a rep from each of the local govt areas (Lithgow and Mid-Western).
· Adds will be placed in the paper within the next few weeks asking for people to nominate. Centennial expects the Chair to call the inaugural meeting in Feb.
· Centennial suggested that the public meeting should be held after the CLC has held its first meeting.

November 26, 2010

Hunter stud owner shuts the gate to stop mining companies bolting across his land

Date: November 25 2010
Ben Cubby ENVIRONMENT EDITOR Sydney Morning Herald
IT WAS the cradle of a national plan to regenerate farms and fight salinity, but a Hunter Valley horse stud is now a target for a new coalmine.
Peter Andrews developed the practice of "natural sequence farming", which involves building earthworks and planting trees to mimic original landscapes, on his property at Tarwyn Park, near Bylong.
The practice, which was championed by the former governor-general Michael Jeffery and the businessman and thoroughbred breeder Gerry Harvey, has since been applied to hundreds of degraded Australian farms.
But Mr Andrews has barred his gates to Anglo American Coal workers seeking to drill bores on the property to locate and measure the coal seams beneath it, and neighbouring landholders have followed suit.
Korea Electric Power Corp has said it intends to start mining in the area by 2016, although it has not specified whether it plans to develop underground or open-cut mines.
"We don't know exactly what they're proposing but the potential is that they will destroy the aquifer under the property by drilling," said Stuart Andrews, Mr Andrews's son.
"With the aquifer damaged, the place would just die." Mr Harvey, who owns a nearby horse stud, added his opposition to the mining proposal.
"Tarwyn is a living case study of how we can get it right when it comes to water use and sustainable agriculture," he said in a statement.
"The place should be a bloody shrine, not a hole in the ground. The irony – and stupidity – of possibly losing a place like Tarwyn to mining is simply breathtaking."
About 420 million tonnes of coal suitable for power generation are thought to lie beneath the horse studs, and the entire Tarwyn Park property lies within the area covered by the exploration licence.
Korea Electric Power Corp, which is majority-owned by the government of South Korea, bought exploration rights to the area from Anglo American Coal earlier this year for $403 million. The sale is yet to receive final approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Anglo American Coal, which is continuing exploration work, said there was no chance the aquifer would be damaged or polluted by the drilling."The borehole when completed is grouted or cemented and is then completely impermeable and thus does not affect the water aquifer," the company said in a statement to the Herald.
"Whether there is a true potential for a mine, whether open cut or underground, is contingent on information derived from the exploration drilling program."
It said a plan to drill 18 test holes across Tarwyn Park and neighbouring properties would go ahead at "the earliest opportunity, pending approvals".
It is understood the company has spoken to some landholders in the district and believed it had been granted access to drill bores in return for compensation, before the current stand-off.

November 17, 2010

Coal Mining articles in Mudgee Guardian 17/11/10

Mid-Western coal group formed

The Mid-Western Community Action Group (MWCAG) will be reactivated as a regional body to voice residents’ concerns about the expansion of coal mining, following a public meeting at the Mudgee Soldiers Club on Monday evening.
Read more…

Region faces mine ‘explosion’

The Mid-Western Region faces an explosion of mining in the next seven years, Mid-Western Regional Council general manager Warwick Bennett told National Party members at a community meeting on Monday afternoon.
Read more…

GasLand movie to be shown in Mudgee - Thursday 2nd Dec 7.30 pm at AREC

Right click on flyer to enlarge.
Flyer provided by Barbarw Hickson

November 15, 2010


Dr W.M.Castleden MS, FRCS, FRACS Retired Vascular Surgeon (Past Chairman Doctors for the Environment, Australia.) and other colleagues have made a submission to the Chairman, Environmental Protection Agency in WA which addresses the health threats of coal mining, many of which are unavoidable.

Extracts from the submission include:

"There are specific health effects of coal mining. Of all the resources to mine coal is probably the most treacherous. Each step of the coal life cycle: mining, transportation, washing, as well as combustion, and disposing of post-combustion wastes, have impacts human health."

"Coal mining radically changes the lifestyle, character and inhabitants of all communities."

The Appendix to the submission shows:

"This photograph is of the bed of Waratah Rivulet north of Wollongong. This used to be the main stream that fed the Woronora Dam, an important water source for Sydney.
The stream no longer flows - at least most of the time it doesn't. The bed of the stream has been ruptured and water disappears down the cracks. Why? Because of longwall coal mining beneath the stream.
Many streams in NSW suffer the same fate."

To view or download the full submission click here.

Posted for President

November 14, 2010

Hits on our Blog

The President was wondering how many people read our Blog.

I checked up to find that there have been more than 3,600 to date and the number in the last 30 days now shows in the right hand side bar below Links. Please check up!

November 12, 2010

Hunter Valley Protection Alliance holds Joint Strategy Forum

On Saturday 6th November, the Hunter Valley Protection Alliance held a Joint Strategy Forum of the "Coalition of Coal & Methane Gas Community Action Groups" at Broke, which brought together 40 protest groups and communities from Queensland, NSW and Victoria to discuss the issue of destructive coal mining and coal seam gas exploitation across Australia.

The Conference endorsed National Action!

John Thomson, Executive Officer of Hunter Valley Protection Alliance has now reported:
“Welcome to the emergence of a national alliance of communities concerned about the rapacious, unfettered and government-sanctioned growth of the coal mining, coal seam gas mining and related industries.
I can't believe it is almost a week since we met. This past weekend's forum was, in the words of a journalist who contacted me on Sunday morning, an historic event. We are taking our collective message to a new, national level.
A copy of the powerpoint slides used to assist in our discussions is attached.”

November 11, 2010

Exploration Drilling

I had a look at the Drilling information from CCAG, which is very detailed, and in my opinion correct.

I have a “Heavy Civil Engineering” background where I spent a good part of my life in deep foundation “piling” work.
I was employed at the time by the world largest Piling company which operated in over 60 countries.
During my time I was responsible for over 400 individual projects, including all foundation work on the “New parliament house” , Sydney Entertainment Centre, Bridge foundation and large Industrial work all over NSW.

In piling work with similar ground conditions as we have in the Mount Vincent/Cherry tree hill I have found general the following.
Drilled piles would range from 600mm to 1800mm diameter. The Basalt is in most cases very hard for the size of piling holes.
The alluvial material above the Sandstone is often of “gravelly-sandy” nature
The Sandstone ranges from weak to very dense and hard with intermitted layers of iron stone “extremely hard” and or layers of faults/cracks of soft sandy material. Often the deeper the harder it gets.
In weak Sandstone and alluvial material it is the norm to use drilling fluids. The drilling fluid prevents the hole from collapsing and prevents the ingress of water.

In our area I would expect water in all strata’s, i.e. crakes in the Basalt which ones exposed will decant into the drill hole.
Large water flows in the alluvial layers, which without drilling fluid will have strong flows into the hole and bringing with it large amounts of sand and gravel, i.e. the hole would become considerable larger in this strata.
In the Sandstone considerable amount of water can be expected  trapped  in various layers of soft rock and cracks up to 30mm wide. Yet in some Sandstone there is almost nil water ingress.

During my time the majority of drilling fluids were bentonite mixed with water, however some chemical mixtures started to appear which at the time were highly toxic, and very costly to dispose of.

On many cases I have noticed  considerable loss of drilling fluids, for example a hole used 12 m3 of concrete to fill, but absorbed 13 m3 of drilling fluid.
Where did it go?  Well it clogged up crakes in the rock formation and travelled considerable distances in porous water bearing layers, which could affect springs a long way away.

Please note I am not a geologist, the above is soly based on experience and actually dealing with water in the foundation work.
In the piling game water is a “nuisance” which makes the job more difficult, therefore little attention is given  to its value.

Rolf Vogt

Posted for Rolf

November 8, 2010

Solar as cheap as coal? - article by Giles Parkinson

Can solar be cheaper than coal and gas? In a sense it already is, given the value that the NSW government has given it after cutting tariffs from rooftop solar to below that delivered to the household from coal and gas plants.

But in Germany, a new report suggests that solar could be produced, rather than just consumed, as cheaply as power from new gas and coal plants within five to eight years.

That turns all assumptions about the costs of energy on their head. But the report prepared by consulting group AT Kearney on behalf of its client, the German solar developer Phoenix Solar, suggests production costs for solar PV should be properly compared to the cost of new oil and gas facilities, rather than the current infrastructure.

And it predicts that solar, given further increases in scale and technological advances, could cut PV production costs in half by 2020 to be as low as low as 12.6 euro cents ($0.18) per kilowatt-hour, which would compare with around 15.6 euro cents for newly installed gas generation by 2020.

The study develops some further interesting arguments. It suggests that solar PV costs should not be compared with the baseload cost of electricity, but to the costs of the medium and high peak loads in which it usually operates.

It also says that the macro-economic benefits of solar PV will pass break-even for the first time in 2010. And the study suggests that once the estimated 6GW of solar PV are installed onto the German grid by end of 2011 then the accumulated benefits of all solar PV connected to the German grid since 2000 will have outweighed their costs.

The study cites not just the comparison of solar PV costs against medium and peak load power, but also broader benefits of a new manufacturing base, jobs, export income, and it’s key role in accelerating the structural transition to an efficient, intelligent energy grid with a high proportion of decentralised power generation.

“PV therefore enables wide swathes of the population to participate in the supply of energy,” the report says. ”In addition, it generates impetus for the development of innovative, decentralised energy systems and integrated applications, such as charging stations for electrical vehicles, which underpin Germany's technological cutting edge in the field of renewable energies."

If AT Kearney’s predictions on solar costs versus coal seem highly contentious, the argument about solar PVs broader significance in the energy networks of the future is an element that has been completely missing from the furore surrounding solar PV and other renewables in Australia.

What will be more troubling for the solar industry – and other emerging renewables hoping for a clear and helpful policy path – is the current tone of the debate from government and industry, which leaves little hope that sensible policy will ensue.

Established industry knows the value of a scare campaign, it’s worked to brilliant effect with state and federal capitulation over the CPRS, mining taxes, and now solar tariffs. But bullying works. Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, seemingly responding to such pressures, has hinted that the planned phase-down of renewable energy certificate multipliers may also be accelerated.

The Energy Minister, Martin Ferguson, who has a say in all of this, was at it again yesterday, telling an energy conference in Sydney that putting a price on carbon "is a significantly cheaper way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions than prescriptive, technology specific solar feed in tariffs that have been introduced by different state governments.”

Here, solar PV and other renewables seem destined to be measured only for their costs – even though they are a fraction of the expenditure for the planned (with little scrutiny) upgrade of our coal-fired networks – and their performance criteria are now judged only by their ability to cut emissions.

That’s all very well if your vision of the future is a continuation of the large centralised power grids that have been the blueprint of the industry for the past three decades. And your motivation, prodded by the fear campaigns of utilities with interests to protect, are that the lights may go out.

But that is not the way the world is heading – and it shouldn’t be the direction that Australia is taking either.

The government’s own task force on energy efficiency makes that clear. This report is not simply about turning things off when they are not in use and making appliances and buildings more efficient, it is also about challenging the national energy market to change its spots, and for various components to change their business models.

The current model that delivers rewards only for producing more electrons (in the case of generators) and building more poles and wires and transformers (in the case of transmission and distribution), is not the most sustainable, it is not the least cost, and it is not the most efficient.

Posted for President

November 7, 2010

New documents added on 'Reference Documents' page

The following new documents have been added on the 'Reference Documents' page which can be accessed in side bar under 'Pages of this Blog' -

Overview of Mining Exploration Access  - NSW Farmers document

Developing Land Access Agreements - NSW Farmers document

Template Land Access Agreement - NSW Farmers document  

November 5, 2010

StreetFeast stall 6/11/10

Memo to all Members.

RSWUA will have a small presence at StreetFeast - sharing a stall with Wombat Gully Nursery. Please come and support your association and buy a raffle ticket. We have a wonderful hamper of all sorts of local produce that is made possible by our valuable water resource. If anyone is able to spare a few hours to man the stall, or has an item to contribute to the hamper please contact Helen Ewart on 63  588 660.

Posted for President

November 3, 2010

November 1, 2010

No new mining until strategic planning is done

NSW Farmers’ Association has released a Framework for Sustainable Development, focused on planning for agriculture and extractive industries. The Framework seeks to provide adequate protection for agricultural land and water resources and farmers’ property rights.

Click on a page to enlarge and read or download the document and read by clicking here.

A Briefing Note explaining where the moratorium would and would not apply is shown hereunder and can be downloaded from here.

 Posted for President

October 29, 2010

Australia Outlines Biodiversity Conservation Strategy Through 2015

Tony Burke, Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, today released Australia’s new strategy for biodiversity conservation on behalf of the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council.


Mine moratorium call - Mudgee Guardian article 29/10/10

NSW Farmers’ Association Mudgee branch president John Webb has backed the group’s call for a moratorium on new mining or coal seam gas developments across the state.
Mr Webb said the association was not opposed to mining but was looking for greater transparency in the approval process.

He said from a farmer’s view, he was concerned about the potential loss of good agricultural land but understood mining was good for the economy.

“What we need is a balance,” he said.

“The agricultural industry will feed the world forever, whereas coal won’t.

“If you travel the length and breadth of this land you will see our best farming land is also in areas with higher rainfall and we do not want this lost to mining.”

Mr Webb also questioned the mines’ land use after mining.

“They say they will return the land in a better shape than previous but who will they return it to?”

“This is something I have brought up at all CCC (community consultation committee) meetings.”

NSW Farmers’ Association Mining Taskforce Chair, Fiona Simson said mineral and petroleum titles and applications now covered around 70 per cent of the state and a long-term plan must be implemented.

Mr Webb said as a Mid-Western Regional Councillor and local farmer, he believed the cumulative impacts of the mines should be taken into consideration.

“It’s not just one mine or the other,” he said.

“There are a whole heap together.

“People think they are a world away from Mudgee but they are not.”

Cr Webb said the view of Mudgee not becoming another Hunter Valley was disrespectful to people living in the shire.

“There are residents who must be looked after who are living on our shire but are a part of the Hunter Valley too,” he said.

The Mid-Western regional council has also backed a moratorium on mining within the region, earlier this year calling for a halt to State Government approvals until a strategic plan was put in place.

However, NSW Minerals Council said the NSW Farmers’ Association call for a moratorium was irresponsible.

NSW Minerals Council Deputy CEO, Sue-Ern Tan said putting a stop to new mines or extensions would hurt future job prospects in regional areas and make NSW the ‘ugly duckling’ of Australian states for doing business.

“They’re [NSW Farmers] advocating the use of a sledge hammer to crack a walnut,” she said.

“We are behind the NSW Government’s new sub-committee of cabinet that will specifically with coal mining issues and develop a strategic plan.

“It seems that the NSW Farmers’ Association now shares a policy with The Greens, the party that has been working against the interests of the agricultural sector for years.”

Ms Tan also rejected completely the suggestion that the minerals industry was allowed to go unchecked.

“We are the most heavily regulated industry in the state with 572 pieces of legislation, regulation and Codes of Practice that we must work within.”

October 22, 2010

John Hatton to chair Mudgee coal meeting - 15th November 2010

Mudgee Guardian 22 Oct, 2010 10:38 AM
Former independent member of the NSW Legislative Assembly and anti-corruption campaigner John Hatton will chair a public meeting on November 15 to discuss the community views on the affect of coal mining in the region.
As an independent MP for 22 years until his retirement in 1995, Mr Hatton exposed corruption and waste in the public service and legal system and in 1994 successfully moved for a Royal Commission into the NSW Police Service.

He is campaigning for re-election to the NSW parliament in the 2011 State election.

The November 15 meeting has been called to address community concern about the effects of mining expansion on water, rail traffic and the environment.

Barbara Hickson, a member of the community group organising the meeting, said the proposed Cobbora and Bylong Valley mining proposals were seen as of significant interest.

“We are inviting government representatives, mining companies and the local community,” she said.

Mr Hatton said he was pleased to have the opportunity to chair the meeting.

Cr Russell Holden, who at Wednesday’s council meeting expressed concern about the transparency of the mining approval process, also welcomed the appointment of Mr Hatton.

“John is the calibre of person we need to assist us in obtaining total transparency regarding mining approvals within the region,” he said.

“I urge all parties and the whole of the community attend this important meeting.”

The meeting will be held at the Club Mudgee Auditorium on November 15 from 7pm to 9.30pm.

October 20, 2010

Group concerned about mining effects plans coal meeting in November

Mudgee Guardian 20 Oct, 2010 08:43 AM

 A group of community members concerned about the effect of coal mining in the Mid-Western Region are planning a public meeting in November to allow others to express their views.

The group has been meeting informally and researching how the expansion of the area could affect health, water, tourism, and agriculture.

Member Barbara Hickson said she had been approached by concerned citizens to convene a public meeting in Mudgee before Christmas and would work with the community and Mid-Western Regional Council to plan the meeting.

“Two major issues are the impending absorption of local water supplies and the potential coal train movements throughout the Cudgegong Valley,” she said.

“The potential of six gigalitres (6,000,000,000 litres) being taken up by the Cobbora Coal Mine proposal has brought many in the community to fear that water supplies for local users may dry up within a decade.

“Further potential mining in the Bylong Valley, Hargraves, Gulgong and The Cherry Tree Hill area are motivating the community to work together.

“Community concerns about further mining development have been raised in a number of public meetings and by Mid-Western Regional Council.

“The prospect is that NSW-owned power stations are seeking to establish their own coal mines which would be approved by themselves.”

Earlier this year, Mid-Western Regional Council requested an embargo on approval of any new coal mining developments until a regional strategic management plan is in place.

The group is also supporting a call from Cr Russell Holden for greater transparency in the processes used to assess mining applications.

Cr Holden has given notice of a motion to today’s Mid-Western Regional Council meeting calling on council to formally request a copy of the full base water data for the proposed Cobbora Mine, and to write to the Department of Planning requesting written confirmation of their offer to pay for half the cost of an independent evaluation of the potential effects on water.

Councillor Holden will also call on council to write to the NSW Premier and all appropriate ministers, requesting input into all and any negotiations on mining expansion in the Mid-Western Region.

Mayor, GM to meet Minister
Mayor Des Kennedy and general manager Warwick Bennett will meet with Department of Planning representatives tomorrow to discuss concerns over the effects of coal mining expansion in the region.

Mr Kennedy and Mr Bennett will also meet with Minister for Planning Tony Kelly on November 3.
Issues raised will include the proposed Ulan West project, and in particular a proposal in the draft condition of consent that a voluntary planning agreement (VPA) with Mid-Western Regional Council be deferred until the end of December, 2011.

The VPA would cover Ulan Coal Mines Limited’ contributions towards local infrastructure and services to meet demand generated by the project, including contributions to maintenance of Cope Road.

Mid-Western Regional Council will discuss its response to the proposed conditions of consent at its meeting tonight.

October 16, 2010

October 14, 2010

Southern Highlands Coal Action Group

This new group in the Southern Highlands just got their web site up and running; take a look as the threat is new there too and they seem to have some good tactics.

At their public meeting, local MP Pru Goward urged a proactive strike against mining, suggesting a virtual civil disobedience pledge:
“I hereby give my pledge that I will not allow an employee, associate or representative of  (name of coal compamy)  onto my property at any time for the purpose of conducting mining exploration.”

THE LAND newspaper has an article about their recent meeting which can be seen at:

The Local Council has voted to support the newly formed Coal Action Group - see newspaper article:

Posted for President

October 11, 2010

The Effect of Mining - NSW Farmers Fact Sheet updated

The NSW Farmers Association have updated their Fact Sheet on the Effects of Mining . . . on Water Resources.

It is a straightforward and yet hard-hitting policy statement from this important group.

See Reference Documents page shown on the right hand side-bar or download from here.

October 7, 2010

If it's not coal, it's coal seam gas

Cessnock Council Unanimously Votes Against Coal Seam Gas

by Hunter Valley Protection Alliance on Thursday, 07 October 2010 at 01:32

At the Cessnock Council Meeting last night, Councillor Dale Troy moved a rescission motion on part of the Cessnock LEP 2010 to put an amendment exclude mining and extractive activities from the zone containing the vineyards.

This motion, seconded by Councillor James Ryan, welcomed by WAGE and the Hunter Valley Protection Alliance (HVPA) was supported without contest by the Council.

Both Councillors had attended a meeting organised by the Hunter Valley Vineyards Association, Wine Country Tourism and HVPA at The Vintage in Pokolbin on 30 September at which over 100 people from the wine and tourism industries showed their support against AGL Energy’s activities in Broke Fordwich, Pokolbin and Wollombi Valley.

“We are not anti-energy,” said Peter Firminger, Vice-Chair of WAGE. “If Coal Seam Gas is to be a viable industry in Australia, it must be conducted away from agriculture and viticulture, away from populated regions and certainly no-where near fragile water resources including aquifers, brooks and rivers in the lower Hunter Valley. The process of ‘Fracking’ is just dangerous around people and water resources.”

“AGL Energy, and the other Coal Seam Gas companies, love doing business in built-up areas because they have access to infrastructure – roads, power and smaller lot sizes so there is more chance to persuade or purchase properties of interest.”

“We need to protect communities like Broke, Fordwich, Milbrodale, Bulga, Pokolbin, Gloucester and up into the Liverpool Plains from these companies in areas that have significant rural industry already at the heart of the communities. The new paradigm has spoken and Rural NSW needs to be listened to. This is just the beginning of this industry here, we can learn from the dire mistakes already made in the United States and in Queensland. People and animals are dying from the effects of Coal Seam Gas mining.”


Posted for RSWUA

October 1, 2010

RIVERS SOS Rivers SOS is an alliance of over 40 environmental and community groups concerned with the wrecking of rivers in New South Wales by mining operations.


Communities around NSW are actively fighting campaigns against the Government's expansionary vision, its addiction to coal royalties, and the cumulative impacts of mining on the environment and on human health. The Greens use their presence in the NSW Parliament to work with these communities and help them take their fight to the Government.

September 30, 2010

Radio report on Public Meeting

If you missed the ABC Local News this morning, you can hear the article about our recent Public Meeting by going to:

where you will see a heading  ABC Local News with 30/09/10 Robyn Herron
(you may have to scroll down if there have been later posts)

Click on the triangle at the left of the play bar to hear - if yo wish you can move the white dot to 01:55 to fast forward to the RSWU article.

September 29, 2010

Report on Public Meeting 23.9.10

Over 60 people attended the meeting on a Thursday afternoon (with apologies to the Sydney weekenders who were therefore unable to attend).
The meeting began with a report on a meeting with Centennial Coal held at their Capertee office, with Beau Preston and John Sandona, attended by Mitchell Clapham (NSW Farmers) and RSWUA members Helen Ewart. Jolieske Lips and Prudie Woods. A full report of this meeting is available on the blog.
 It soon became apparent there was much criticism and concern regarding the Water Census:  explanation by Centennial about the process and information on what the census was and what it was doing was totally inadequate. Many expressed the view that they wanted details before they agreed to letting Aquaterra onto their properties. The one positive note was a report from one landholder, describing himself as a person who had spend a good deal of time earning his living by performing chemical analyses - it was his observation that the sampling process used was meticulous.
The meeting was informed that RSWUA had written to Centennial asking for a full hydrogeology survey, with an independent hydrogeologist(for RSWUA) having input into the parameters of such a survey and RSWUA being given full details of the parameters. Centennial had initially rejected all these requests, but following the meeting with representatives of RSWUA on 21 September, they have agreed to make public the parameters of the water census. This will be put on the blog.
Some information on what exploratory drilling entails and the chemicals used was briefly discussed. There are a range of issues that landholders might be concerned about, and information on these will be put on the blog.
Other points made during the meeting:
·       Some conflicting reports when drilling is going to start. Need to confirm these details.
·      Some people believe that the flow rate of water is not being tested on their property. Is this not occurring for everyone?
·      Documents discussed at meeting to be added to blog [the access letter Aquaterra present on arrival at a property,  info about drilling concerns, and letter from Centennial with details on the Water Census].
·      Insurance policies – it was suggested to request the company’s policy, to ensure accidents/damages are their responsibility, not yours.
·      OH&S policies – discussion whether each property should have their own policy, some landholders do. This is to cover landholders.
·      Conveyed to a landholder that it is cheaper and easier for CC to drill on private property, as opposed to council/public ground.
·      Ensure old drill holes are filled in (can only be on CC’s lease).
At the conclusion of the meeting the community members present decided that they would like to take a stand. However, it is noted that there are landholders who would wish to take access agreements to their own solicitor, rather than using group legal representation. Some landholders will deal with the situation as they see fit.
1st Stage: The community has decided on the minimum standards required from CC. These being:
·     A benchmark of what the water census entails is to be received by the association. This will be looked at by a hydrogeologist to ensure it is testing for the appropriate components.
·     Results need to be made public, a public explanation, with consideration given to the confidentiality of landholders, is necessary.
2nd Stage: If the community accepts the results of the 1st stage, then the second stage would entail a full hydrogeological study:
·    There needs to be a separate hydrogeological survey access agreement for this [i.e. it is separate and different to access for exploratory drilling].
·    The association needs to investigate whether small core, specifically hydro type drilling can potentially threaten the aquifers. If this is deemed a satisfactory means for a hydro study, then it is requested that CC follow through with this process. However this drilling would not go down into the coal measures.
·    Negotiation of adequate compensation. It needs to be clearly stated in the access agreement that any damage to aquifers/water supply is CC’s responsibility – they are liable NOT the Association.
·    Once again the results (with adequate protection of individual landholders privacy) to be made public and with a public explanation.

Should this report confirm exploratory drilling will not impact the aquifers, then exploratory drilling can proceed, CC now having adequate information to plot their grid of boreholes.
·    It was also agreed upon to ‘suggest’ to CC that they complete their drilling on public ground.

Posted for President

September 28, 2010

MEETING WITH CENTENNIAL - 21st September, 2010


At Capertee office, with Beau Preston and John Sandona. Mitchell Clapham (NSW Farmers) and RSWUA members Helen Ewart. Jolieske Lips and Prudie Woods

Water Census

About 50 landholders participating – Centennial had hoped for about 90 – still not too late to be included. Aquaterra have sense that some landholders are being a bit cagey and not showing the whole picture.

When Aquaterra are shown an unregistered bore, they have a duty of due diligence ie obligation to tell the landholder that the landholder should register the bore. Aquaterra will not report it.

You should receive a letter from Aquaterra that clearly states they take all responsibility. Landholder needs to specifically ask for the test results, otherwise they are not given. May be some time before results come back to the landholder.

(Letter states you will receive $100 per 24hours that water sampling takes place on your property – this was not mentioned at the meeting.)

Water census over 4-6 weeks (till about mid-end of October with report end November.  This is first part of the hydrogeological survey (C pointed out that this was term Aquaterra also used).

Still not too late to register for the census. Encourage everyone to participate as it is a great opportunity to have the water system of the mountain studied. The more that participate, the better the picture.

C need to understand the character of the mountain before before drilling commences. Aquaterra will be advising C as they go (in drilling program?) for position of bore holes and for specific sites for detailed analysis and pisometers, which will be at different levels. Drilling will be monitored as it happens (i think this is what my notes meant).

[On reflection after the  meeting am wondering if Beau picked up on some of my statements regarding what a hydrogeology survey should include and was feeding some of the lines back eg having nest of pisometers which went to different levels.]

Mentioned they have made provision for isotope dating and acknowledged may need to come back in dry time to do a little more sampling.

The water census is to provide a guide for the more detailed study to follow, and for the position of the bore holes. RSWUA asked again that they have input into the scope of this survey so that the community can be confident it is adequate and that the testing will provide an adequate benchmark. C will get back to us on that.


Will commence early in new year.

Initially two stages, the 2km grid and then the offset grid (results in aobut 1km grid). This gives them the information to commence a concept plan. Then possibly further drilling in area of most interest. Have approached  all the landholders for the first two stages, although some have not come back to C.

In these first 2 stages may need to drill additional holes in certain places where there are volcanic plugs or faults. At this stage the position of the holes is fluid and there may be changes once Aquaterra’s report is received.

There is an overarching Review of Environmental Factors (REF) done which is a desktop study. Then there is an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) done for each borehole. The individual EIS will be fairly brief, on site looking at flora and fauna, with water component covered by Aquaterra’s report

Holes will be geophysically logged. Once bore hole is drilled put down probe which measures density of rock via gamma emissions – also do seismic scan of rock to establish rock strength. So number of different probes on the same day – then the hole is cemented all way to surface.

C are considering if will run another electromagnetic survey by helicopter.

Coal measures are about 70-100m thick and within that coal seam 5-6m deep. Seam can divide.


Compensation for drilling at $2,000 per borehole. Pointed out that if improved pastures are involved this may be inadequate.

Where possible existing tracks would be used – aim is to have minimal impact.

C indicated they were flexible. The intent of the access agreement is to have something that sets a framework. There is no “dummies guide”. They endeavoured to make it as simple and flexible as possible.

We questioned the amount of $1,000, stating that NSW Farmers had indicated it could cost $10,000 or so. Some discussion about trying to line up one solicitor who deals with all.

Property Acquisitions

C have purchased two properties at this point in time [note use of this phrase]. The properties came on the market, they wanted to have a presence in the area and needed a place to store core samples.

Too early to say whether the coal close to the surface is mineable and how it would be got out. At stage of applying for mining lease, when mine plan finalised there would be direction as to which properties should be acquired. People should continue life as normal and continue with any property improvement plans.

In Conclusion

Agreed we would meet on a regular basis.

Re the Community Consultative Committee (CCC) Centennial have written to the Minister, but he has changed and they were advised to write again to the new minister. [As i type this i question this statement – surely a letter to the Minister is a letter to the Minister, whoever he is!] 

Posted for President

September 21, 2010


Just a quick reminder about the RSWUA Public Meeting at 4.30 pm on Thursday 23rd September  at the Running Stream Hall.
 For more details see Public Meeting Thurs 23 September

Italian people power shows the way to reject water privatisation 6th September 2010

Recent legislation to privatise water services in Italy has met with staunch public resistance and a well-organised national campaign, resulting in the tabling of a petition of around 1.5 million signatures from citizens opposed to this legislation - three times as many as are required to call a referendum on the issue

Paolo Carsetti of the Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l’Acqua has indicated that even the City of Paris has removed control of water supply from the private sector, “when Paris had been the heart of the empire of water multinationals such as Suez and Veolia."

Unlike the Italian scenario, in Australia the process of water privatisation has been one of stealth;  the vast majority of Australians are still unaware that they also risk losing control of their water resources. 

However, having dragged the issue into the open, Fair Water Use will do all possible to ensure that it remains in the public arena and will continue its campaign to let the people of Australia decide their water future: not inept administrations or self-serving speculators. 

The Italian public will now have the opportunity to voice its opinion via national plebiscite: Australians deserve the right to do the same.   

National State of Emergency Commission and National Commission of Inquiry 


In response to the ongoing crisis, Fair Water Use commissioned Consultants in Quality Pty Ltd to draft terms of reference for both a National State of Emergency Commission and a National Public Commission of Inquiry into the Murray-Darling crisis.
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Public loses all faith with planning process

Public loses all faith with planning process

SMH September 21, 2010 
COMMUNITIES across NSW are so frustrated and cynical about the planning system they doubt it is worth the effort of even engaging with it, according to a report funded by the Department of Planning.
It says a principal Planning Act objective of encouraging ''public involvement and participation'' in the process has steadily eroded, leaving communities angry with consultation they often feel is simply tokenism.
 ''The community generally feels disconnected with the planning process, deeply cynical about whether it is worthwhile to engage, and extremely frustrated about the current system,'' is the main conclusion of the report, Reconnecting The Community With The Planning System.

Jeff Angel, of the Total Environment Centre, said the department agreed to fund the study on improving the system after he raised concerns about ''a pervasive disenchantment'' with planning processes.

Mr Angel commissioned the Environmental Defenders Office to hold public forums up and down the coast and to conduct surveys to identify the problem and recommend changes.

The chief executive of the office, Jeff Smith, said when he took up his job eight years ago NSW planning laws were the ''best in the country and the world because they took seriously the balance between community, business and the government''.

But the study confirmed that had changed dramatically with changes to the planning law, known as Part 3A, under which the minister approves projects deemed of state significance, including marinas, livestock plants, tourism developments and apartments and office blocks worth more than $100 million, with no right of appeal.

''The government pretty much did an about face with Part 3A,'' Mr Smith said. ''You had a community trained up believing they had rights to participate and they were taken away.''
His report found an ''extremely high degree of dissatisfaction with community consultation opportunities under Part 3A'' and recommended minimum, non-discretionary consultation requirements be included in the act.

Even where there was consultation, people complained that governments and devejlopers often just went through the motions.

One participant in a Ballina forum said: ''There is often the sense, well, if we've come and told you something then we've consulted with you. But there is never the sense that consulting actually means we are going to listen to what you are saying and then make any changes based on what you've told us.''

While Part 3A attracted much of the criticism, the report says there were complaints about most aspects of the system, including automatic approval for certain ''complying developments'' and state environmental planning policies, called SEPPs, that are never debated in Parliament.

The affordable housing SEPP, allowing developers to build lower rental townhouses and flats in suburbs that would otherwise breach council rules is one such policy where residents and councils say they were not consulted and cannot get their views heard.

To restore confidence, the report recommends 40 changes making consultation a legal requirement and specifying who is consulted and how and what is involved.

The Department of Planning said it would work with the authors to produce an action plan to deal with issues raised.

September 19, 2010

Wines, not mines, in Margaret River

The following from Sharyn Munro's Website is an interesting read.

The latest unthinkable area to be targeted by the coal mining frenzy is the world-renowned wine and food area of Margaret River in south-west Western Australia.

A town, a river and a region, it is one of that state’s main tourist destinations, offering a Mediterranean climate and a combination of surf coast and scenic hinterland as settings for rich and varied cultural and gastronomic experiences.

The people who moved there and gradually created this special — and sustainable — economic Eden know what they have to offer. They also know what they have to lose if the coal industry gets a toehold here.

Bye-bye Leederville aquifer, bye-bye rural peace and quiet, bye-bye Margaret River as a holiday refuge for the city-stressed.

This is the mine site on Osmington Rd, near Rosa Brook, 15km from the actual town of Margaret River, and a much-visited and picturesque part of the Margaret River region, with wineries, dairies, berry and olive farms, equestrian centres and charming rural B&Bs, like the owner-built Rosa Brook Stone where I stayed.

LD Operations is currently applying to mine coal underground here; other exploration leases await. As you can see from the swampy centre, it’s clearly a wet area, despite, as locals say, a dry winter.

It is inconceivable that they will be able to mine without damaging the aquifer, although I am sure they will find experts to assure us that this would be ‘unlikely’.

The visible neighbouring farmhouses are modern, new-ish; they weren’t expecting this. Nor were these inhabitants of the adjoining lifestyle block.

Locals like TV chef Ian Parmenter (left) and Brent Watson have formed a strong NoCOAL!itionmargaretriver group to fight this entirely inappropriate mine.

 Ian Parmenter and his wife Ann moved here 20 years ago, building a haven — home and garden and orchard and vineyard — over that time. Brent Watson and his family run the highly successful Horses and Horsemen equestrian resort and training centre just down the road.

They have the support of the local Council, winemakers and tourism associations and notables such as James Halliday. Local member Troy Buswell says he’s agin it, but Premier Colin Barnett has finally stated that he is not about to step in and deny LDO their ‘due process’

And we all know what that portends.

Because I was visiting Collie, only two hours away, Ian asked me to speak at a public meeting the day before I headed home. About 70 people turned up at the Rosa Brook Hall to hear about what I’ve seen in coal areas in other states and were audibly shocked at the Rivers of Shame DVD shown afterwards. As a reward, I was treated to a Parmenter feast of a dinner — vegetarian, in my honour!

I know these good people had very full lives and livelihoods before this mine threat exploded and I know how much time they are now spending on trying to save them — and the future and water resources of the whole region. This is a huge part of the unfairness I see all around the country. I hope they can last the distance — and win — as all reason and justice say they ought.

If Mr Barnett is not thinking of the southwest’s water and longterm land use, he might like to think about this, which I’d read before this whole mining madness became public. It’s was in The Weekend Australian Financial Review May 22-23, 2010, ‘How space and place dictate your happiness’ by Deirdre Macken. She reported that Glenn Albrecht, Professor of Sustainability at Murdoch University, had studied the Upper Hunter’s existentially distressed coal mining area populations, where ‘everything they valued was being taken away, … shovel by shovel’.

He became interested in finding places that work best for people, ‘health-enhancing environments’, and he and urban planner Roberta Ryan of Urbis independently agreed that  ’the place in Australia that best captures the qualities that please the psyche is the Margaret River.’
Says Ryan, ‘It’s the most extraordinary place… and it just feels like the most fantastic place to be. It helps that it has an incredible level of investment by locals and so the locals feel as if it’s owned by them.’

Which is why they won’t be allowing Mr Barnett to allow the mining company, under his rubber stamp legislation, to take it away from them — and the rest of us.

September 16, 2010

Newsletter - Public Meeting Thurs 23 September

RSWUA invites the Ilford/Running Stream Community to a


WHEN     4.30pm    Thursday 23 September   

WHERE    Running Stream Hall   

WHY        To discuss developments with the Inglenook Exploration
  • Water sampling versus full Hydrogeology Survey
  • Access for Exploration Drilling
  • What does drilling involve?

We apologise for the short notice, but wanted to get this meeting in before the School Holidays and before drilling starts (apparently planned for November).
           Hope you all can come.

Dear landowner,

RSWUA called the last public meeting to give Centennial an opportunity to address the community.

The sausage sizzle afterwards (organised by RSWUA) provided the community with an opportunity to discuss some of the issues amongst themselves, but not as a group as a whole. The Association believes that there are now some very important issues that need to be addressed and we would like to know just how the community wishes to act.

We are aware there may be some differences of opinion – we are a diverse community and therein lies our strength. However we believe it is important that there is a public, community discussion about how to move forward.

Agreement for Access and Exploration Activities
Centennial have provided a copy of their Agreement for Access and Exploration Activities and this can be viewed on our blog. If you don’t have access to a computer, but would like a copy of Centennial’s Access Agreement call either Prudie on 63588213 or Jolieske on 63794318 and we’ll get one to you.
The Association  is currently exploring avenues for legal assistance with the Access Agreement.

Water Census/Hydrogeological Study
RSWUA maintains that a full independently verified Hydrogeology Survey must be carried out over the Inglenook lease by an experienced and competent Hydrogeology consultant, nothing more nothing less.

This must be done before any Access for exploration is granted.

We must know about the source of the water on which the local agricultural and residential community relies; its quantity and quality. This will only be provided by a   thorough Hydrogeology Survey of the Ilford/Running Stream area.

We would also like to know where has coal mining been done in NSW below the sedimentary sandstone and shales without depletion and contamination of the overlying ground water resources?

The questions that Centennial must answer are:
  • How is the security of the existing ground water resource to be maintained and guaranteed if mining proceeds?
  • How is contamination of the ground water to be avoided if mining proceeds?
RSWUA is currently trying to set up a meeting with Centennial to discuss this and we hope we can report back to you by 23rd.

The Committee,  RSWUA Inc

Click here to download this Newsletter.