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.
Read more...,com_juser/task,UserRegistration/

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.

Agreement for Access and Exploration Activities-Centennial document

 To view this document click on link below.

Agreement for Access and Exploration Activities-Centennial document

September 6, 2010


... and it's not because they like the local drop.

Many landowners in the area are devastated by the recent news that Centennial Coal has purchased the Mt. Ilford winery with an eye to gouging it up for dirty coal. But there is still a long way to go before any coal mining happens in this beautiful landscape, if at all. There are many Environmental Impact Studies to be carried out and there are a lot of people who have vowed to fight for what they know are basic human rights - clean air, clean water and a place they can call home - things that don't sit comfortably with coal mining.

Some people will be feeling overwhelmed by the onslaught of Centennial's current exploration process and this is only natural. Professor Glenn Albrecht has identified a syndrome emerging in the Hunter Valley which he calls 'solastalgia' - homesickness while still at home. It's experienced by people whose solace in their home environment is no longer afforded to them in the extremely well-funded face of Big Carbon. But some things can't be bought and our way of life in this spectacular area is one of them.

From little things big things grow. This is a moral issue. We are the custodians of this land, holding it in trust for future generations. It is our duty to pass it on in good nick. We also have a sacred duty to all other living species. In Genesis Chapter 9, God says to Noah; "Keep them alive with thee". The creatures of this land don't have a voice but we do.

Don't despair. Get active. Write to your representatives and tell them to wise up. Water is more precious than coal!