December 15, 2010
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
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
COMMUNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE FOR THE INGLENOOK EXPLORATION PROJECT
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:
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
On Wednesday 18th November some of your committee met with Centennial Coal (Beau Preston and John Sandona). Here are some notes from that meeting.
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
· 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.
· 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
November 17, 2010
Mid-Western coal group formedThe 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.
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.
November 15, 2010
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
November 12, 2010
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
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.
Posted for Rolf
November 10, 2010
Here is it on youtube, courtesy of Margaret River WA.
November 8, 2010
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.
November 7, 2010
November 5, 2010
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
October 31, 2010
October 29, 2010
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.
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 26, 2010
October 22, 2010
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
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 15, 2010
Posted for Nell
October 14, 2010
The Local Council has voted to support the newly formed Coal Action Group - see newspaper article:
Posted for President
October 11, 2010
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
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
September 30, 2010
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
September 28, 2010
At Capertee office, with Beau Preston and John Sandona. Mitchell Clapham (NSW Farmers) and RSWUA members Helen Ewart. Jolieske Lips and Prudie Woods
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.
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.
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
Public loses all faith with planning process
Matthew Moore URBAN AFFAIRS EDITOR
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.
September 19, 2010
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
- Water sampling versus full Hydrogeology Survey
- Access for Exploration Drilling
- What does drilling involve?
Hope you all can come.
- 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?