April 30, 2011

Submission on the NSW Coal & Gas Strategy by EDO

The Environmental Defender's Office submission on the NSW Coal & Gas Strategy has been listed on the Reference Documents page.
View document

Environmental Defender's Office - Community News

Discovery event and campaign action Saturday 14th May, 2011
The Gardens of Stone is named because of its spectacular rock formations.
Over 1,088 hectares of public forest within this uniquely scenic and biodiverse area are now at risk of exclusive occupation and destruction by open cut coal mining.
Join supporters at 1.00pm on Saturday 14th May 2011 for a great banner action, photo and discovery event to help Protect the Gardens of Stone, in the western Blue Mountains, NSW.
We guarantee you haven't seen such a wonderful landscape in NSW as the sandstone turrets known as "pagodas".
These formations provide a safe haven for the nests of our iconic Lyrebird and the forests below provide food for Lyrebird chicks.
Event location: Gardiners Gap Trail, Ben Bullen State Forest, NSW.
This event will be conveying public transport users to the site free of charge.
For detailed information on the event:   click here
For detailed map of the event meeting area:   click here
To buy a map of the Gardens of Stone:    click here If you would like someone to speak at an event or meeting on this issue, contact Justin on 0404 824 020.

This event is a community initiative by the   Blue Mountains Conservation Society,   Colong Foundation for Wilderness   and   Rivers SOS.

April 28, 2011

Gasland on TV - SBS 9.35pm Sunday 1st May

Fiona has also passed on this from the SBS website:

Gasland: It is happening all across America - rural landowners wake up one day to find a lucrative offer from an energy company wanting to lease their property. Reason? The company hopes to tap into a reservoir dubbed the ‘Saudi Arabia of natural gas’. Halliburton developed a way to get the gas out of the ground by a hydraulic drilling process called ‘fracking’. But is fracking safe? Josh Fox set out on a journey across America’s heartland to find out. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Guy Sim's Letter in The Land

Click on image to enlarge

April 26, 2011

Minerals Map Tool

Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2011 12:37 AM
Subject: [CoalCommunities] Do it yourself mapping tool of mineral resources.

Here is an incredibly powerful tool anyone can use - to map Australia's mineral resources and Mines, (operational and old ones).
Alternatively you can simply hit the topography button and map any area of Australia and convert it to a printable small scale PDF map and print off any area in Australia you are interested in.

Denis Wilson

April 25, 2011

Running Stream group calls for protection for food security, water

The Running Stream Water Users Association (RSWUA) has called on the State Government to consider food and water security in developing a state-wide strategy on coal and coal seam gas mining.

In its submission on the scoping paper for the draft strategy, the RSWUA said food and water security had been highlighted by thinking people as the major concerns of the 21st Century.

“The paper implies that the only land that might be considered for ‘quarantining’ is land that is currently used intensively and/or is very productive,” RSWUA president Jolieske Lips wrote in the group’s submission.

“Surely the opposite approach should be taken as we plan for the decades ahead and thus protect all food producing land, no matter how it is currently being used?

“If we are going to future- proof our food security we need to err on the side of caution.

“With an increasing population and urban expansion obliterating market gardens, future generations will require more not less agricultural land.”

Ms Lips said the recent experience of the Hunter Valley showed that co-existence of agriculture and mining was a myth.

“Sure, small scale underground mining and scattered, open cut can and until recently have co-existed. However, the Hunter Valley experience shows the cumulative impact is devastating on agriculture.”

Ms Lips said to date the State Government had not showed any commitment to preserving water resources, citing the destruction of Woronora Cree, and the deterioration of Woronora Dam and the drying up of the five Thirlmere Lakes in the World Heritage Blue Mountains National Parks as a result of longwall mines.

“In our own area of Running Stream, we are currently battling to have a comprehensive water study done before coal exploration begins,” the submission said.

“Here we have rich basalt farmland with a significant water resource from springs which will be affected by mining.

The RSWUA submission also criticised the scoping paper for bias towards coal development over renewable energy.

Ms Lips said the strategic approach seemed to be that of a global economy: “Sell coal and import food”.

“This bias is further confirmed by another staff comment: ‘If there is a resource we will mine it’.”

The RSWUA has called for a full cost/benefit analysis for all mines, not just “key areas”.

The analysis should be transparent and include all environmental impacts, health costs, and effects on the community such as increased housing costs, road costs, and costs to businesses of skills shortages, the RSWUA says.

The group wants changes to the exploration licence process so that landholders are notified before mining titles are granted, and to include water as a compensable loss.

April 21, 2011


The Department of Planning's Coal and Gas Strategy Scoping Paper demonstrates a total bias in favour of coal development over all other industries. This point was highlighted in the Running Stream Water Users Association's submission to the Department last week.

The submission also questioned the process used to approve exploration licenses and mining leases calling for a full cost/benefit analysis that includes health and environment costs.

Legislative changes were also called for in the submission to protect the long term wellbeing of not only our immediate area but the whole of New South Wales.

Read RSWUA full submission.


Greens MP Cate Faehrmann has been instrumental in supporting rural communities affected by the exponential growth of the coal and coal seam gas industries in New South Wales. Speaking at a meeting in Dee Why last week she said; "This issue is bringing together farmers and environmental groups in a campaign like nothing before."
With 70% of NSW now under exploration licenses, Ms Faehrmann has called for a Special Commission for Enquiry into the true cost accounting of coal and gas in this state, a document signed by many concerned groups including the RSWUA.
"If the full risks were factored in there is no way this industry would be allowed to go ahead," Ms Faehrmann said; "In the meantime, the Greens are calling for a moratorium on the industry."
"Agricultural land is precious and the next few years are critical. We have to campaign like hell to highlight the risks and to protect our land, our water and our biodiversity."
Formerly in charge of mining issues for the Greens, Ms Faehrmann now has the Environment portfolio with mining now in the hands of Jeremy Buckingham who serves as a Councillor on Orange City Council and has just set up his office in the Legislative Council, narrowly beating Pauline Hanson to the seat.

April 20, 2011

BVPA Calls for Greater Bylong Valley to be Declared a “No-Go” Zone

The Bylong Valley Protection Alliance (BVPA) has called for the Greater Bylong Valley to be declared a “no go” zone for mining and coal seam gas (CSG) extraction. The call was made in the group’s submission to the NSW Coal and Gas Strategy Scoping Paper.

The full submission by BVPA is here.

April 19, 2011

Environmental Law Workshop

I previously sent out an e-mail which suggested that the Environmental Defenders’ Office (EDO) were attending a meeting in Rylstone on the 28 April 2011. The EDO have since confirmed that they will not be in Rylstone on that date.

The EDO are presenting an environmental law workshop in Mudgee on 25 May 2011. See earlier blog for details.

I attended the same workshop in Lithgow in March and thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt a vast amount in such a short time. I urge everyone to attend. These venues also allow you to meet other people with similar predicaments to ours and to form effective networks.

Staff from the EDO are extremely professional and have a vast amount of experience fighting bureaucracies and multinational companies. It is a government body and it is good to see the government actually providing assistance in this manner.

The EDO have forwarded me copies of the “Rural Landholder’s Guide to Environmental Law in NSW” for distribution. If anyone would like a copy please e-mail me on guy1@ipstarmail.com.au and I will get a copy to you. The book has a huge amount of information in it ranging from powers of the RFS to certified organic produce.

Guy Sim

Agriculture and mining debate at Easter Show

NSW Farmers Association Media Release

"Sorry no map attached, click on text to enlarge"

Posting from CVA

April 14, 2011

White Energy Ends A$500 Mln Cascade Coal Acquisition Bid

SYDNEY (Dow Jones)--

White Energy Co. (WEC.AU) has decided to cancel a planned A500 million (US$522 million) acquisition of two coal projects in New South Wales, after environmental objections raised uncertainty over the direction of the deal.

White Energy said the acquisition of Cascade Coal Pty Ltd, which is 60.1% owned by five White Energy directors, had "a degree of uncertainty" while experts were consulting on the impact of project development on local farmers and water tables.

The cancellation raises questions about the prospects for major resource development in the world's largest coal exporter, amid growing conflict between mining companies and local farming groups over developing coal and gas.

"There's been a lot of pushback from the community up there," said a person familiar with the proposed deal, who didn't wish to be named. "Getting a mining license up in today's environment is a lot more difficult than it was even 12 months ago."

Craig Shaw, a spokesman for the Bylong Valley Protection Alliance, a group campaigning against the development of Cascade's Mt Penny project, welcomed the decision.

"It's a surprising and welcome development. The scotching of this transaction means that the immediate imperative to development has been pulled away."

Australia is the world's largest coal exporter and the fourth-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, with many analysts arguing that it could become the world's largest LNG exporter by 2020 on the back of coal-seam gas developments in farming areas in New South Wales and Queensland states.

Hunter Valley in New South Wales is the world's dominant producer of the thermal coal used in power stations, with the port of Newcastle closest to the Mt Penny site having a current annual capacity of 143 million tons.

But the coalition state government elected last month has signaled it would take a tougher line than the previous Labor administration on the issue of resource development, and promised a review of some exploration licenses granted under the previous government.

White Energy said the acquisition bid had been terminated by mutual agreement with Cascade, after the Cascade directors not associated with White Energy failed to come to an agreement on how several consultations on the environmental, social and agricultural impact of the deal would affect the transaction.

"The committee believes it is appropriate and in the best interests of White Energy shareholders to wait until there is greater certainty in relation to (these) issues," the company said in a statement. White Energy added that it could revisit the offer if development consent is achieved.

"(White Energy directors) had to go back to Cascade shareholders and say, "There are concerns from our own shareholder base about the transaction," the person familiar with the deal said, adding that the directors needed to provide assurances to White Energy shareholders on certainty.

Conflicts between farmers and resource companies in Australia have grown in recent years with coal and coal-seam gas explorers expanding operations in regions such as the Gunnedah Basin of New South Wales, the Bowen and Surat Basins of neighbouring Queensland state, and the Bylong Valley where Cascade's assets are located. Farmers fear that coal development could diminish or pollute underground aquifers.

Several politicians, including the Green party which holds the balance of power in Australia's Senate, and Tony Windsor, an independent who helps the minority Labor government win votes in the country's House of Representatives, have backed their concerns. 

-By David Fickling, Dow Jones Newswires;  david.fickling@dowjones.com

April 9, 2011


Email from Craig Shaw, BVPA
 A significant article by Paul Cleary entitled “Fertile Areas Face Open-Cut Threat” appeared in today’s (Saturday’s) Australian. The article deals largely with issues we are facing here in the Bylong Valley, including with Mt Penny etc. It features quotes from our Vice-President, Stuart Andrews (along with a photo), as well as from Tim Duddy and others.

For the full story, see: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/fertile-areas-face-open-cut-threat/story-fn59niix-1226035830458

April 8, 2011



The Mud Guard got the link wrong! Here is the correct link to vote.

Fingers crossed!

Running Stream activist leads climate change rally

Mudgee Guardian article,  ANIKA HUME 8 Apr, 2011

A founding member of a major Mid-Western environmental action group fronted a crowd of more than 4000 environmental crusaders in a rally against climate change in Sydney on the weekend.

Co-founder of the Running Stream Water Users Association Nell Schofield led the activists gathering in Belmore Park near Sydney’s Central Station on Saturday after being elected the mistress of ceremonies by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW just the day before.

Ms Schofield stirred rally-goers to call for government action on climate change between speeches from the CEOs of Greenpeace and GetUp and a mum from Roselle who is working for change with her local climate action group.

A number of environmental action groups from across the state and country were present at the non-partisan event, organised by a coalition of community social groups to represent the views of groups like the Australian Youth Climate Coalition which includes more than 58 000 young people.

Ms Schofield said the event was part of a series of short notice, positive-natured rallies produced by GetUp to counteract a string of rallies against the proposed carbon tax in Melbourne and Sydney.

“There are just as many people in support of action on climate change and a shift from prehistoric fossil fuel power generation which destroys resources as there are attending these negative rallies you see on TV,” she said.

“The crowds attending these anti-carbon tax, politically-motivated rallies are older - they aren’t moving with the times and they aren’t thinking about the world they are leaving behind for the next generation.

“Last weekend’s rally was a much more family-friendly, non-political, forward-moving event aimed at striving together for a positive future.”

Ms Schofield said the day featured a great spread of speakers and a great turnout that was kept entertained by a great band, Sunchasers Collective, who operate from a portable solar panel and solar power generator.

“It was hard to get people out to our recent anti-coal seam gas rally because it was raining, but this time we had a great response and a lot more city folk coming out for the rally which was really good to see,” she said.

Ms Schofield, an official presenter for Al Gore’s Climate Change Project, said that as a district “ravaged by coal mining” the Mid-Western region had a very real role to play in shifting people’s perceptions of energy consumption and shifting Australia’s economy to one based on sustainable energy.

“Ninety eight per cent of us take out insurance against the theft of our car when there is just a two per cent chance of it being stolen. Yet there is a 98 per cent chance of catastrophic climate change happening, so not to take out insurance against that probability is morally reprehensible really,” she said.

“Everyone in the coal mining industry has enough smarts in their head to pick up a new skill and learn how to create a wind turbine, a solar panel or a geothermal plant, so it’s time that energy workers shifted their focus to working towards a new sustainable energy world.”

Ms Schofield is currently contending to become an official Environmental Justice Society Environmental Crusader.

Winning would allow Ms Schofield to meet environmental campaigner Erin Brokovich, who launched the society. Voting in the competition finishes today (Friday).

To vote for Ms Schofield, visit environmenalcrusader.com.au/autho r/nell  
 - correctionhttp://www.environmentalcrusader.com.au/author/nell/

April 6, 2011


It was on this very day 20 years ago that members of the Ilford/Running Stream community banded together to form the Running Stream Water Users Association. Motivated by the threat posed to their unique water resource through proposed coal mining in the area, the group began to share information and equip themselves for what would become a long and drawn out struggle.
 While that initial threat eventually disappeared, another well armed opponent recently raised its head to present the greatest challenge yet to the Association. Not content with its massive expansion at the nearby Charbon Colliery, Centennial Coal began making advances into the Ilford/Running Stream area. The Thai owned company proceeded to buy up properties and divide the community with deceitful promises of environmentally friendly coal mining.
There is no such thing. Coal mining poses one of the biggest threats to water resources on this, the driest inhabited continent, through the destruction of aquifers and water pollution. The demand for "clean coal" sees companies use of fresh water supplies to wash the mineral, contaminating the water resource in the process.
The environment is never the same thereafter despite outrageous claims to the contrary in costly propaganda such as the recent glossy supplement in the Mudgee Guardian. And the impact of this industry on the atmosphere is also unacceptable, given what we know about climate change and the role that coal fired power generation plays in it.
And so the struggle continues.

To celebrate 20 years of the RSWUA, one of our members has made a short film which has been accepted into the Environmental Crusader Competition run by the Environmental Justice Society which was recently launched in Australia by Erin Brockovich.
You can view it here:

April 1, 2011


 Just 2 weeks ago Association members gathered in Sydney calling on politicians to protect our land and water resources from coal mining and coal seam gas extraction. Now another rally is being called to encourage the new government to take bold action on climate change. And that, of course, means backing alternative energy sources instead of the outmoded carbon intensive coal industry.
The rally will be held at 11am in Belmore Park near Central Station and it will be M.C'd by RSWUA founding member Nell Schofield. Over 3,000 people have already rsvp'd so please come and help wave the flag for our Association and stay tuned for updates over the weekend.