July 30, 2011

Coal barons sowing the seeds of unrest - SMH 30 Jul 2011

Changing land use is fuelling rural tensions, write David Humphries and Leonie Lamont.

For top farming land only a few road hours from Sydney, the Bylong Valley came late to settlement. Its remoteness imposed by the surrounding sandstone curtain and the national parkland that separates it from the Hunter Valley, this canyon riverbed is as productive and as versatile as it gets when seasons are good. But rain has been poor this year.

Peter Grieve, whose grandfather and father took up the 1300 hectare Talooby in 1937, has been cursing the dry only half as loudly, however, as that other intruder he considers the valley's greater affliction.

"I've nothing against coalmining," says Grieve, who is helping to spearhead the Bylong Valley Protection Alliance, one of dozens of landholder groups springing up around the bush in a spirited but mostly futile resistance to the Great Coal Rush. "On principle, I don't believe country like this, or the Liverpool Plains or the Darling Downs, should be turned over to mining. This country was made for food production."

July 29, 2011

Mines minister visits Mudgee - 27 Jul 2011

The days of Sydney knowing what is best and imposing its will upon regional NSW are well and truly over.

This was the comment made by NSW Minister for Resources and Energy Chris Hartcher on a whirlwind trip to the Mid-Western region on Wednesday.

Mr Hartcher spoke to the Mudgee Guardian after a flight from Lightning Ridge where he had met Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries.

He met Member for Orange Andrew Gee at the Mudgee Airport before touring the Ulan mine site.

Asked about Mudgee’s rapid growth as an energy “hub”, Mr Hartcher said the State Government had many considerations and was working towards the right policy for land use across NSW.

“We see a great future for this area both agriculturally and through minerals,” he said.

“It [Mudgee] started off as a pastoral area, it’s developed a vineyard industry, it’s now developed a mining industry and it’s now developing an energy resource industry.

“There’s enormous potential for properly planned growth and the government, through our local MPs, is determined that growth will be planned, it will be balanced, and that it will be done in conjunction with concerns of the community.”

Mr Hartcher said he intended to work with Mr Gee to ensure there was mining expansion, but not at the expense of farming and not at the expense of water.

He said the government’s strategic land use study was under way in consultation with a number of stakeholders.

“It contains a reference group which includes NSW Farmers Association, the NSW Minerals Council, the Total Environment Centre, the Nature Conservation Council, Local Government Association, and the CFMEU,” Mr Hartcher said.

“The policies they take forward I propose that we would take forward to our local members including Andrew, Kevin Humphries and John Williams further west.

“We want to go through every level and want to make sure the community is represented by its members.”

Mr Hartcher reminded nearly two-thirds of the cabinet are from regional NSW and the government would work with them to make sure development is done in conjunction with local communities.

“We’re not going to let anything happen until all the safeguards are in place,” he said.

“There will be no further exploration licences granted in NSW without them going out for public comment.”

Mr Gee said he believed the government had acknowledged concerns brought to him before, during and after the election.

“Under the previous government these exploration licences were handed out like confetti and no one knew really what they were doing, communities were being divided, neighbours were being played off against neighbour and it was all very unproductive so I think we’ve adopted the right approach,” he said.

“He’s [Mr Hartcher] taken the time to find out what’s actually going on with mining at the literal “coal face” of energy production in NSW because it is going to be a big issue which affects this area.”

Source: Mudgee Guardian 29 Jul 2011

July 25, 2011

Stop Coal & Gas Wrecking NSW

To everyone who wants the government to stop allowing mining companies to destroy NSW

The NSW Government is sponsoring a $900 a head NSW Mineral Exploration and Investment Conference next month in Sydney. The two-day event (18/19 August) will see government and industry players coming together at a fancy hotel to discuss how to carve up NSW for coal and gas mining and destroy communities the environment and the agricultural potential of the state.

The Lock the Gate Alliance is inviting communities groups who want a different future to come to Sydney and present the other side of the impacts of mining. We need representatives from every campaign group across the state to give a clear and loud message to the government and industry.

Lets have our own conference – a conference for food, water and communities.

What: Rally at the NSW Mineral Exploration and Investment Conference 2011
Where: Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, Phillip St Sydney
When: 12noon, Thursday 18 August
Speakers: Speakers from local campaign groups around the state have been invited to address the rally - see the Lock the Gate website for updates in the next two weeks

For more information email rally@lockthegate.org.au   Register at the Facebook Event    Visit the Lock the Gate Alliance Website

Conference agenda

July 21, 2011

Alan Jones speaks to Drew Hutton from Lock the Gate Alliance

Subject: Alan Jones Show - 19 July 2011

Alan Jones speaks to Drew Hutton from Lock the Gate Alliance about the Santos takeover bid for Eastern Star Gas


Source: Rob Binks (MWCAN secretary)

July 20, 2011

Upswell of community concern over mining expansion

Media release - Jeremy Buckingham, Greens MP - 18 July 2011

Upswell of community concern over mining expansion

Greens MP and mining spokesperson, Jeremy Buckingham says an organic upswell of community concern over the rapid expansion of mining is the most stringing impression on the first half of his tour of mining affected communities.

The tour has so far taken in the western coal fields of  Capertee Valley, Running Stream, Rylstone and Mudgee; Coal mines at Ulan, Moolarben and Wilpinjong and the rapidly disappearing town of Wollar.  Jeremy has met with residents in Bylong and Bunnan, spoke to hundreds of concerned landowners at the hall in Baerami, Upper Hunter and met with community in Camden Haven and Taree.

"Everywhere I go people are extremely concerned about the rapid expansion of coal and gas and want the government to step in to protect their land and communities," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

"There is a growing concern that the expansion of mining will not benefit local communities, but in fact wreck them.

"Towns and villages that have been virtually destroyed and swallowed by the mines such as Ulan and Wollar stand as a warning for communities facing mines and gas, such as the Bylong Valley.

"In many places the coal and gas companies are coming in with their large cheque books and dividing the community, picking off land owners one-by-one until the remainder are forced to sell or go - leaving once healthy towns deserted and productive land fallow. 

"It is clear that coal seam gas does yet not have a social licence to operate.  Everywhere I go there is a new local community group that has formed to try to stop the gas company operating in their area.

"When a Greens MP rolls into a small rural village like Bunnan and is met by half the town wearing 'No Gas' t-shirts, you know something big is going on.

"Country NSW is in revolt against the expansion of coal and gas.  They want a future for their community that revolves around agriculture, a healthy environment and a balanced local economy.  They don't want to be swallowed up by a coal mine, their land pockmarked by gas wells or their precious water put under threat," he said.

Jeremy will be touring Gloucester, Stroud, Gunnedah, Bellata, and the Pilliga over the the next few days.

Contact: Max Phillips 0419 444 916

July 15, 2011


About twenty concerned landowners turned out to witness the arrival of three big rigs at an open day held yesterday by Centennial Coal at the Running Stream Hall. The rigs were carrying demonstration models of the sort of equipment proposed for use in the company's coal exploration project. An 8.5 tonne  exploration drill, a 9 tonne sump and an equally hefty rod handler were hauled into the grounds shocking many landowners with their size. Project Manager John Sandona (right) and driller James Fleming (left) explained to the gathering how these diesel operated machines work. But many of the people gathered were more concerned about the damage the vehicles did to the carefully maintained Community Hall grounds and could only imagine what similar traffic would do to their own properties.
To date the Association is aware of only one landowner who has signed an access agreement with the coal company. The rest of the owners of the proposed 28 drilling sites have yet to finalise deals and some are considering taking up the call from the Lock The Gate Alliance to deny access.
In a timely coincidence, NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham was doing a tour of the region and stopped by to express his support for landowners, many of whom are feeling overwhelmed by the coal company's activities in the area. Mr Buckingham recently called on Parliament for a moratorium on new coal mines until the full impacts of the industry are assessed.
Mr Buckingham met with locals, including Councillor Esme Martens who is also calling on government to change legislation and include water as a compensable commodity where mining is concerned.
Afterwards Mr Buckingham and his entourage drove up to the top of Mt Vincent where they were most impressed by the stunning views back towards the Capertee Valley. Accompanying them was RSWUA President Jolieske Lips who showed them an example of misplaced development at the site of a power pylon that had to be relocated due to excessive water seepage. In its place is a covered hole full of crystal clear water. This, she predicted, would happen in the case of many of the proposed drilling sites.
Perhaps the battle against coal in this area will be won by water itself?

July 13, 2011

Helicopter survey by Centennial

Just to alert you to helicopter survey by Centennial, in case you miss the adds in the paper.
40m intervals at height of 40m. You wont miss it!


Posted for Jolieske

July 10, 2011


The BVPA Needs You! (Or, at least, your emailing ability!) - Mt Penny EPBC Referral

In my last update I advised that – because it will affect critically endangered habitats, along with endangered, threatened and vulnerable animal and plant species – the Mt Penny development needs to be referred to the Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke.

We are asking that you:

a)      Write to Minister Burke (details below) raising your concerns regarding the proposed development, and
b)      SPREAD THE WORD to any friends, contacts, email lists that you belong to, so that they can also make a submission


It doesn’t matter if your submission is long or short, detailed or just saying “please don’t approve this development” – EVERY SINGLE INPUT counts. PLEASE make the time to send at least SOMETHING.

·         Source Documentation

For those who like the detail, the full documentation regarding the referral can be found at:


The key referral document is:


The main information regarding threatened habitats and species starts on p18.

·         Reference Number and Address for Submissions

Your submission must identify the project by quoting its reference number and referral title:

Ref No: 2011/6026
Title:  Mt Penny Coal Pty Ltd/Mining/3km north-west of Bylong/NSW/Mt Penny Coal Project

Address to:
Referral Business Entry Point, EIA Policy Section (EPBC Act)
Approvals and Wildlife Division
Department of the Environment

Send to:
Email: epbc.referrals@environment.gov.au
Fax: 02 6274 1789
Post: GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601
Provide your contact details clearly

·         Some Suggested Bullet Points
Here are some key points you might like to include:
o   The Minister for Environment should not approve the Mt Penny coal proposal because it will have significant impact on matters of national environmental significance.
o   In particular:

§  Over 300ha of the critically endangered White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely's Red Gum Grassy

§  Woodland and Derived Native Grassland ecological community will be cleared

§  5 endangered Regent Honeyeaters were recorded on the site

§  An endangered Spotted-tailed Quoll was recorded on the site

§  A new sub-population of the vulnerable Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby was recorded in the area

§  Habitat of the vulnerable Large-eared Pied Bat and South-eastern Long-eared bat will be destroyed

§   8,800 specimens of the vulnerable shrub Ozothamnus tesselatus will be cleared

§  The open cut mine will directly impact 1454.54ha affecting surface water and groundwater systems

If you have any questions or would like any clarification on anything, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Thanks in advance for your help…

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Craig Shaw
Interim Secretary
Bylong Valley Protection Alliance

  (0411) 101988



July 6, 2011

New policy provides no real change to aquifier use

The Bylong Valley Protection Alliance has said interim aquifer interference regulation launched by the NSW government on Monday will not have much meaning.
The interim regulation provides a three megalitre per year cap before a water licence is needed for minerals and petroleum exploration.

The state government also removed a previous exemption allowing holders of aquifer interference approval to take water without a licence.

Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, said those that hold this approval will now be subject to standard water licensing procedures.

However Bylong Valley Protection Alliance interim president Peter Grieve said the new regulation would not change anything.

“It [full aquifer regulation] will depend on the aquifer studies,” he said.

Ms Hodgkinson said the regulation was an important step for the NSW Government and allows the wider community some breathing space while proper consultation is undertaken.

She said that the new rules would not be retrospective and would apply to any new enterprises from 1 July. Mr Grieve described this as “reasonable”.

The minister said it is important to allow the community adequate time for consultation while the government develops the aquifer interference policy.

“The new policy will form a vital part of the NSW Government’s focus on strategic regional land use and will enable us to balance the competing needs of the environment, mining and agricultural sectors,” she said.

“The community is clearly concerned about the impacts of mining and coal seam on groundwater resources and this new regulation gives us greater control.

“The NSW Government is determined to find a balance between farmers, industry and the environment when it comes to rural land use, and this new regulation, along with the proposed policy, are two key steps in what will be a long process.”

NSW Farmers’ view:

NSW Farmers’ Mining Chair Fiona Simson said the state government appears to be listening to community concerns about the need to protect aquifers from potential contamination.

“Community concern, as demonstrated last week in Moree, shows people are concerned about the possibility of long term damage that could result from unchecked mining and gas industries,” she said.

“We look forward to a permanent framework which will determine how aquifer interference approvals are managed under the Water Management Act 2000.”

NSW Farmers’ is a key participant in the state government’s reference group, which is helping develop the final policy and regulation.

Source:  Mudgee Guardian - The Weekly

“I’m now worried about Rylstone as a future target for mining companies.”

Source:  Mudgee Guardian - The Weekly
Read full article

July 5, 2011

Inglenook Exploration Project Drilling Equipment Open Day


Centennial Coal would like to advise all landholders in the Inglenook Exploration Project area and interested stakeholders that we will hold a Community Open Day in relation to the drilling equipment to be used in the Inglenook Exploration Project Drilling Programme, including an exhibit of the equipment.

The Open Day is scheduled to be held at the Running Stream Community Hall at the following time:

•    Thursday, 14th July 2011 – from 10am to 3 pm 

Light refreshments will be provided.

John Sandona 
Project Manager 

Posted for Jolieske