May 25, 2011

The march of the methane-mongers

Sharon Munro has another interesting post on her Blog and says:

"As the gas leaks and bubbles, and the contaminants creep into the falling water sources and the salt accumulates, as people itch at strange rashes, hold their heads with strange aches, or their stomachs with strange nausea attacks, and worry if they are drinking cancer-causing chemicals from the fracturing process or breathing them in from the gas flares — the coal seam gas (CSG) industry continues to advance across Australia. Gasland is here. Angus lives at Tara, hotspot of the Queensland methane push, and where residents had been complaining since 2008 about leaking gas wells and the dumping of CSG water on roads. (Photo: Courier-Mail 21.10.2010)"

"You cannot stop this gas rush once you have let them in to test and prove the gas reserves.  But you can refuse right at the start, lock the gate, put up a sign and say ‘NO’ as thousands are now doing, one way or another, with the Lock the Gate national alliance of over 90 groups, and hundreds of individuals, from all walks of life. I am one."

See full post here.

May 21, 2011

State freezes exploration licences for new mining

Capertee Valley Alliance Inc. post: "A 60-DAY freeze on new exploration licences for coal, coal seam gas and petroleum has been announced by the NSW government in a push to resolve the escalating conflict between farmers, miners and conservationists over land use. click here to read the SMH article."

May 19, 2011

Invitation - Coal Mining and the Community Forum 20 May

A strategy for coal mining in NSW is currently under consideration by the NSW Government. Come to the Coal Mining and the Community forum and help set the agenda for effective policies and governance of coal mining.

The forum will be held on Friday 20 May 2011, between 9.00 am and 4.00 pm at the Singleton Senior Citizen¹s Centre, Bathurst St, Singleton.

See flier and registration form.

May 5, 2011

Communities in Control Conference 2011

Australia's not going to reform itself. Let's get moving, today, together. Book now and find out how at the Communities in Control Conference

Just a quick reminder that the Communities in Control Conference is less than a month away. Don't miss out on the annual conference that is the first and last word on grassroots leadership. This year's theme is 'Our Changing Communities and Community Organisations' and we've got some fantastic speakers, thinkers and doers lined up, including, but not limited to:

SIMON MCKEON - 2011 Australian of the Year;
MARK SCOTT - Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC);
MIRIAM LYONS - Executive Director, Centre for Policy Development;
ELIZABETH BRODERICK - Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner responsible for Age Discrimination;
LINDA LAVARCH - Chair of the Australian Government's Not-for-Profit Sector Reform Council;
HUGH MACKAY - Australia's greatest psychologist, social researcher and writer on what makes us tick;
PHIL RUTHVEN - Founder & Chairman, IBISWorld telling us what is around the corner in numbers and trends; and
JUST ANNOUNCED - SHARAN BURROW - General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, delivering the Inaugural Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration.
The only way to change things is at the grassroots. Find out how at the Communities in Control Conference on May 30 & 31, 2011

Moonee Valley Racing Club
Members Gate 1, McPherson Street, Moonee Ponds, Melbourne VIC

Conference only: $298 (GST inclusive)
Pre-Conference Skills Day - Women Achieving And Flourishing: $145 (GST inclusive)
Combined Conference and Pre-Conference Skills Day: $425 (GST inclusive)

FURTHER INFORMATION: and see attached brochure.


Submission on the NSW Coal & Gas Strategy by National Trust

It appears to the Trust and to the community at large that, in recent years, gas and coal exploration licences and approvals for mining and gas production have been issued with few restrictions or restraints and this has led to a major community backlash across NSW. Dealing with many of these development proposals as State Significant Developments has largely “locked-out” community input via local government authorities, yet the adverse impacts of these developments are primarily felt at the local level.

There is a perception also that mining companies (and their investors) are in a rush to exploit as much coal reserves as possible before climate change issues force coal mining to be abandoned and that this headlong rush is both risky and ill-considered. Mining companies must be held accountable into the long-term for any on-going adverse effects of their activities.

The NSW Coal and Gas Strategy has the potential to properly identify these concerns and to recommend appropriate guidelines and restrictions to ensure that these industries are not given an environmental carte blanche but are forced to address the long-term and indirect costs of their production, which to date have been typically borne by individuals and local communities.

Development approvals for coal and gas extraction should only be determined following full regard to all foreseeable environmental, heritage, community, social and competing-use impacts. Competing use impacts are particularly relevant, as coal and gas extraction and processing industries have significant potential to sterilise land for alternative uses for many years, if not indefinitely.

The Trust makes the following recommendations in regard to the formulation of an ecologically sustainable NSW Coal and Gas Strategy:

1.    Any coal mining in sensitive areas must, at the very least, utilise lower impact methods for coal extraction, rather than Longwall methods, and extensive areas of subsidence protection zones should be established.

2.    Longwall coal mining must not be permitted beneath Landscape Conservation Areas, protected water catchment areas, rivers, streams, creeks or wetlands.

3.    Neither longwall coal mining nor coal seam gas production should be permitted where there is any risk of damage or pollution of subterranean aquifers.

4.    Reported damage to heritage values during ongoing mining operations must result in reviews of those operations to determine the impacts and put in place less-damaging alternatives.

5.    Open-cut mining must not be allowed to threaten the destruction of whole towns, with their built fabric and social values, prime agricultural land or recognised heritage landscapes.

6.    Gas production facilities must not be sited within, nor impact upon, prime agricultural land, recognised heritage landscapes or within protected water catchment areas.

7.    The Community and their local government representatives must be kept fully informed and briefed on all gas and coal exploration activities and the scope of existing mining leases throughout the State.

8.    Before agreeing to any further exploration or mining leases or renewal of such leases, full environmental impact assessments and social impact assessments need to be undertaken and placed on exhibition for community comment.

The Trust recognises that economic factors tend to dominate any considerations relating to mining activities. The Trust would make the point that, if the only way that mining (or any activity) can be profitable is by utilising environmentally or socially unacceptable practices, then these industries are simply unprofitable.

Read full Report

May 4, 2011

Bylong petitions for protection from mines

Article in Mudgee Guardian - 02 May, 2011

Bylong Valley Protection Alliance (BVPA) is petitioning to have the valley declared a place of national significance to protect it from potential mining for coal, semi-precious minerals and coal seam gas.
BVPA interim president Jodi Nancarrow told a Rylstone District Environment Group (RDEG) meeting on Thursday that the group hoped to present Member for Upper Hunter George Souris with the petition in May and had already collected close to 500 signatures.

“We want the Bylong Valley to be a no go area for mining,” she said.

Ms Nancarrow said only state legislation could prevent the spread of mining across prime agricultural land such as the Bylong Valley and surrounding region.

She urged those at the meeting to exercise “people power”, work together and speak out about their concerns.
“It’s not just here, it’s everywhere,” she said. 

“There is no point in getting cranky with the people who work for the mining company or even the mining companies,” she said.

‘We have to get the government to change their mind – we need mandatory laws, not guidelines.” 

The BVPA is lobbying for changes including better consultation with communities and a ban on the trading of exploration licenses between companies.

“Community liaison, clear and transparent dialogue – they [the mining companies] talk about it all the time, but I’ve never come across it myself,” Ms Nancarrow said. 

The RDEG meeting was called to inform residents about mining proposals around the Rylstone district.

The audience viewed a segment from 60 Minutes on coal seam gas mining in Queensland and an excerpt from the US documentary Gasland.

Running Stream Water Users Association (RSWUA) president Jolieske Lips outlined the Centennial Coal’s Inglenook project for mining in the Mt Vincent area.

Ms Lips said Centennial Coal had three exploration licences across the Inglenook project area.

“There is a strong possibility that we are looking at open cut mining at Ilford, which would be a lovely introduction to a scenic area,” she said.

Expansion of existing mining at Kandos, and mining around Clandulla and Rystone were also possibilities, she said. 

Ms Lips said the RSWUA was trying to ensure affected landowners worked together.

“It’s really important to talk to your neighbours,” she said.

“In areas where people have gone their own way, the difference in compensation has been in the order of 10 times.

“You cannot stop people from coming onto your land [to explore], but there is a distinct process that should happen.” 

Ms Lips said the RSWUA was looking for a solicitor with a background in access agreements and the Mining Act willing to act pro bono (without charge) on behalf of local residents.

“We have approached big firms that do pro bono but we are told ‘sorry, conflict of interest’,” she said.