May 30, 2012

King Coal Dethroned

We live in hope! The statistics in this article are encouraging anyway - worth a read. If the statistics are correct (and sources quoted appear reliable) it also shows just how much influence the media can have on perceptions and how you can't rely on (some) newspapers as your only source of information.

May 29, 2012

Lodge a submission objecting to the Coalpac Consoldation Project.

Time is running out ! 

The cut off date is Friday 1st June 2012. 
It's very important we get hundreds if not thousands of individual submissions in on this issue and influence the decision making process. So tell everyone you know to invest five minutes to help you save a beautiful part of the iconic Gardens of Stone. 
Here's what to do. 
Fill out the form half way down this page with your personal information:
In the box that has the heading 'submission' you need to include a statement saying that you object to the proposal and some reasons why. Here's an example: 
Re: Coalpac Consolidation Project: Application No: 10_0178

I support the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage's wish to add the Ben Bullen State Forest to the conservation reserve system as a matter of priority; it is an area with outstanding natural values.

I object to the Coalpac Consolidation Project entirely for the following reasons: 

• Rehabilitation of open-cut coal mines is incapable of restoring the original biodiversity and geodiversity of the Gardens of Stone Reserve Proposal. 

• This mine would destroy the habitat of over 400 native plant species.

• Our iconic lyrebird uses the sides of pagodas in this area to nest and raise its young. Mining will completely remove its food habitats in the valley below.

• The community will be locked out from a very large part of public land for at least 21 years. I expect to be able to access public land freely. 
The NSW Government would effectively be allowing the privatization and liquidation of public land if it approves this proposal.

• If approved, the mine would scalp all biodiversity from hundreds of hectares of public land within the Ben Bullen State Forest.

• The project proposes to kill 19,200 vulnerable Eucalyptus cannonii, trees and this is unacceptable.

• The project is likely to produce acid mine drainage that will impact on local streams for many decades. It may also produce elevated levels of heavy metals that will also kill aquatic life. This is occurring right now with one of Coalpac's old mines, the Canyon Colliery Mine, which is contaminating streams with unsafe levels of zinc and nikel impacting the Heritage-listed Grose Valley. 

• Coalpac has put forward a biodiversity offset package that is inadequate. Coalpac cannot replace critically endangered habitat and open-cut mining should avoid these rare environments. 

• This mine would destroy the habitat of 35 mammal species, 15 of which are listed under the EPBC Act. 

• Habitats for 12 bird species threatened under the EPBC Act including the Regent Honeyeater, Tiger Quoll and Powerful Owl will be completely removed.

• There will be increased threats to the health of children attending Cullen Bullen Public School because of the open-cut mining nearby.

• A minimum 5km buffer zone excluding open-cut mining should be established around the town of Cullen Bullen to protect its social values and amenity.
More suggestions for bullet points can be found here: 
Thank you for your time and contribution to to this important campaign. 
Please do not hesistate to contact me with any questions directly to help you get your submission lodged:
0404 824 020
Kind Regards
Justin McKee
Blue Mountains Conservation Society
M: 0404 824 020

Social Impacts of Coal Rush

Last night's Four Corners program highlighted the negative impacts of the coal rush on the town of Moranbah in Queensland which was purpose built for coal mining families in the 70s but is now being swamped by Fly In Fly Out workers as the nearby coal fields ramp up production.

Women are scared to go out after dark because rape and attempted rape is up 95%.

What sort of country are we creating for our children? How will they benefit from this boom?

May 23, 2012

In the news: ICAC and coal exploration licence tender process

Members of the Obeid family, including the former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid, expressed interest in buying a Denman farm nearly three years before an Obeid family friend and financial adviser was granted a coal exploration licence over the property.

May 22, 2012


Come and see Bimblebox!

How do we respond to massive change in our own backyards?
This is a doco you don’t want to miss.

 Screening in Mudgee Sunday 3 June and Rylstone Thursday 7 June, Bimblebox is a beautifully filmed documentary about how a small regional community is dealing with the massive and rapid expansion of the coal and coal seam gas industry – threatening to change forever the region’s landscape and livelihood.

‘This documentary isn't just about Bimblebox Nature Refuge – it's about landholders all over Queensland and New South Wales ...’   
Bimblebox explores the huge Australian coal export industry from the grassroots up. With music by Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, the film features many prominent members of the debate against coal expansion in Australia including Guy Pearse (Global Change Institute), Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (University of Queensland) and Matthew Wright (Beyond Zero Emissions).

Club Mudgee (Soldiers Club)
99 Mortimer Street Mudgee
2.30 pm Sunday 3 June

Rylstone Memorial Hall
Louee Street Rylstone
6.30 pm Thursday 7 June

Entry: gold coin donation

For more information about Bimblebox visit
Organised by the combined community groups of the Mid-Western Region.
For updates and more information visit <>

May 20, 2012



                                          The drill rig that is currently being used on Mt Vincent

Many of you may not be aware that Centennial is using a different drill rig to that which we saw last July. The new rig also has a different water usage regime. So you might want to come to one of the open days Centennial is holding next week at the former Mt Ilford Winery (1159 Mt Vincent Rd).

You need to ring 63 588 340 to register your attendance. You have 5 sessions to chose from:

Thursday 24 May 8.30-10.00am and 2-4pm

Friday 25 May 8.30-10.00am and 2-4pm

Saturday 26 May 9-11am

You must wear closed-in shoes and long trousers. You will also have to take part in an induction process for OH&S, and only 4-6 people will be escorted to the drilling rig at any one time.

While we understand the need for only small numbers at a time at the actual drill site, it does mean each one of us has to think to ask every possible questions to ask. That’s the advantage of a public meeting; we can all hear everyone else’s questions, which often prompts us to think of further questions.

To assist us all in gaining the maximum benefit from these open days, you might like to post your questions here on the blog (or email it to us at then we can all go to the open day with a full set of questions. Your Association later will post a report with hopefully satisfactory answers to all the issues that are raised.

May 7, 2012


Only hours left to make a submission about the proposed 4th coal loader in Newcastle. The plans beggar belief.

You can make a submission here:

Here is the submission your Association has made. Feel free to use it:

Objection to Proposed Fourth Coal Export Terminal in Newcastle 
Project Title: Port Waratah Coal Services Terminal 4 
Application No: 10_0215 
Our Association wishes to object to the proposed Fourth Coal Export Terminal in Newcastle. The supposed “benefit” of this is far outweighed by the costs: the costs to the environment, the health of the community, the social and economic fabric of the community. It should not go ahead. Detailed are below our some of our reasons for our objection. 
Impacts on habitat, endangered and threatened species, and migratory birds 
- Part of the 4th terminal site is currently National park. The National park lands include critical habitat for migratory shore birds that needs to be protected. National park lands must not be included in the proposed development. 
- The 312 ha project site includes 91ha of valuable native vegetation and 24ha of open water habitat. In particular: 18.8 ha of saltmarsh (an endangered ecological community under TSC Act) 28.9ha of mangrove and 27.3 ha of freshwater wetland of which 4 ha are listed as an endangered under the TSC Act. 
- Loss of habitat for 23 threatened fauna species including Australasian bittern (Endangered, EBPC Act) and the Green and Golden Bell frog (Vunerable, EBPC Act). 

- Loss of habitat and the disruption to an ecologically significant proportion of a population for four migratory shorebird species listed under international conservation conventions. At least 11 species of migratory birds recognised by international treaties rely on the habitat of deep pond and its proximity to the RAMSAR listed wetland. 

- Off sets cannot hope to compensate for loss of habit at the site. The proposed off-set site at Ellalong has already been identified as critical for conservation in its own right. It is also approximately 50 km away from Koorigang Island, therefore fails to compensate for the loss of Deep Pond, which provides key foraging and roosting habitat due to it s proximity to RAMSAR listed wetlands in the Hunter estuary. 

- Deep Pond is the only freshwater drought refuge in the Lower Hunter Estuary system. It is relied upon by at least 15 species of waterfowl of which 3 are listed as threatened under the TSC Act. 

- Due to high value habitat and the protected species dependant on it, plus its key relationship with the nearby RAMSAR listed wetlands, Deep Pond needs to be protected and management coordinated with the ongoing conservation efforts in the Hunter Estuary. 

Air Quality 

- The environmental assessment downplays the effect the 4th terminal would have on air quality stating “The T4 project is not expected to result in any criterion exceedences on any additional days of the year”1. It defies belief that the uncover coal stockpiles for a coal loader of the size of T4 will not increase the amount of coal dust effecting Newcastle suburbs. 

1 P243 Vol 1 Air Quality report 
- The project does not plan to implement best practice for dust control measurements. Best practice would be not to have any stockpile. 

- The EA only considered trains to affect residencies within 20m of the rail line. This is does not represent an adequate assessment of the air quality impact of increased coal transport as a result of the 4th terminal. 

- The current guidelines are outdated and fail to account for the findings of ongoing health studies which demonstrate that total suspended particles (coal dust) are of greater detriment to human health than when the guidelines were put in place. 

- The precautionary principle should be applied to potential health impacts of the T4 proposal. Approval should be not be allowed until a more conclusive health and air quality study is undertaken for the Newcastle LGA. 

Dredging and water pollution 
- There is no plan to fully remediate the heavily contaminated T4 site. The T4 proposal will therefore cause the leaching of existing toxic material into groundwater and surrounding surface waters via a ‘squeezing effect’. Result will be pollution of both the neighbouring (National Park and RAMSAR listed) wetlands and the Hunter River. 

- An increase in shipping will negatively impact harbour water quality with sediment disturbance (some of it contaminated), release of bilge water, more antifouling agents, chemicals and oil spills, and dumping of debris. It will also reduce access for other harbour users and increase the risk of introduced species. 

- The T4 proposal requires the realignment of the banks of South Arm of the Hunter River and construction of a ‘turning circle’ or ‘swing basin’ to accommodate the world largest ships. The proposal also requires dredging of the South Arm of the river from its natural depth of 2m to 4m to 16.2m with 17.8m deep shipping berths along each bank. 

- The dredging will have massive impacts including the removal of aquatic habitats and impacts on estuarine habitats via changes to tidal hydrodynamics and salinity. Also potential of creating stagnant deep holes, altering currents, causing river bed erosion and liberating pollutants which are currently trapped within the bottom sediments.i 

- The EA fails to deal adequately with the impact of the massive dredging necessary for T4. The approval for South Arm dredging, given by the previous State government, should not be relied on for a significantly different proposal. 

Social and economic impacts on Newcastle and Lower Hunter 
- There is no additional operational employment associated with the T4 Project 
- Loss of other economic activities in the port, like tourism, fishing and other shipping. 
- The project would facilitate an increase of at least 41 additional coal trains per day through the suburbs of Maitland and into Newcastle. This Increases congestion on the rail lines, noise and dust. 
- Noise and vibration from site operations 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. 

Increased traffic congestion through construction period. 
- Impacts on commercial fishing are expected from the loss habitat and contamination.ii 

Impacts of increased coal mining in NSW 
- The completed project would facilitate the equivalent of at least 15 more large coal mines in the Hunter Valley and Liverpool plains. 
- The Costs of more mining to the State include: Green House Gas generation at mines, loss of agricultural lands, blasting, noise, air quality, loss of aboriginal and non-aboriginal heritage, visual impacts, loss and pollution of surface water and groundwater, damage to aquatic ecology, flora and fauna loss. 
- Research shows the health impacts of the coal industry estimated at $2.6 billion Australia wide. Pollution from coal affects all major body organ systems and contributes to the leading causes of morbidity and mortality. In the Hunter Valley this impact is all the more prevalent due to the proximity of coal mining, transport and infrastructure to communities. The 4th terminal project would facilitate a massive increase to health impacts in the region, for this alone the negative contribution of the project far outweighs any merits. 
- 22 more coal ships visiting Newcastle every week, pushing out other port users and the potential investment of other port industrial, commercial, tourism opportunities. 
- The 4th terminal would provide for the equivalent of 15 more large power stations around the world, meaning an extra 288 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year fuelling the global climate crisis. 

- The strategic need for the project does not justify its approval. The current pace of coal mining expansion in the Hunter region is already coming at a cost to the environment and human health that far outweighs the benefit of royalties it provides in return. 

- The 4th terminal project depends on further mines and expansion of existing mines that are not guaranteed to occur. The upgrading of PWCS exiting terminals and the new NCIG 3rd terminal (to 211 million tonnes total from 89 million tonnes in 2002) can already accommodate for a large increase in coal exports from Newcastle. 

- To approve additional export infrastructure (to 331 million tonnes in total) and destroy the ecological values of the T4 site takes no account of the potential decrease in the commercial viability of coal sales in the future. 

May 2, 2012

Protect Gardens of Stone – Say No to open cut mining!

 The Gardens of Stone are a truly amazing area and if you havent visited yet, put it on your must do list! It is apalling to realise some of it may be destroyed by open cut mining, so if you have some time this Saturday, make a statement and participate in this rally in Springwood.

 Public Rally 11am Saturday 5th May 2012, Springwood NSW

Protect Gardens of Stone – Say No to open cut mining!

Where: Town Square, 180-184 Macquarie Road, Springwood

What: A peaceful rally of Blue Mountains residents and other members of the community who object to open cut mining in the Gardens of Stone area, North-West Blue Mountains NSW.

Entertainment: A short performance by Ecopella, an a capella choir

Speakers: Cate Faehrmann - Greens MLC, Trish Doyle, Labor's spokesperson for the Blue Mountains, Justin McKee – Campaigner, Blue Mountains Conservation Society

Note: Roza Sage, Member for Blue Mountains has been invited to speak or provide a representative for the NSW Government; no RSVP has been received at 2nd May 2012.

Why: NSW environment groups have proposed that some 40,000 hectares of the visually stunning Gardens of Stone be protected within the State’s conservation reserve system. Mining companies have lodged applications with the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure to open-cut mine in the area proposed for conservation.

The Gardens of Stone is named because of its sandstone rock formations (pagodas) and the abundance of native wildlife that lives there. A large proportion of it remains unprotected from high-impact activities such as open-cut mining.

The ‘Coalpac Consolidation Project’, is on exhibition for public comment until 1st June 2012. If approved, the Project would destroy 843 hectares of habitat for over 400 native plant species, 35 native mammal species and 12 threatened bird species. Large amounts of dust will be unleashed into the atmosphere, increasing the level of small particles existing within close proximity to the town of Cullen Bullen and its Public School. This is overwhelmingly against the public interest. so come and support the rally

Running Stream Joins Thousands at Rally

Association members joined with around 5 thousand people from both country and city regions who rallied outside Parliament House yesterday to demonstrate their opposition to the O'Farrell Government's Draft Regional Land Use Plan. Marching alongside members of the CWA, who were protesting for the first time in their 90 year history, the group backed the NSW Farmers Association call for a reassessment of the Draft Regional Land Use Plan.

Marching behind some whip cracking kids, the crowd chanted the rally cry; 'Save our water, save our land, country and city, united we stand'. And it was exciting for members to be part of this movement for the preservation of our precious resources.

Farmers Association President Fiona Simpson encouraged the assembled crowd to make a written submission in addition to the personal one that they were making by being present at the rally.
Information about submissions can be found on their website (

Submissions close on May 3 so if you care about you land and water, please take a minute to let your feelings known.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW has also compiled the following points which you may use in your submission:

Submission Guide: Have your say on mining and coal seam gas expansion

Take action today to protect water, wildlife and local communities from the impacts of mining and coal seam gas development. 

In the lead up to the state election, the NSW Liberals and Nationals promised to protect ‘critical agricultural and environmental assets’ from the impacts of mining and gas development.

They promised to introduce strategic regional land use plans that would identify ‘sensitive areas’ that would be off limits to mining and coal seam gas.

They promised to protect strategic agricultural land and areas of high conservation value.

To date, they have comprehensively failed to deliver on that promise.

The draft land use plans recently released by the NSW Government do not place a single square inch of the state off limits to mining and coal seam gas.

The draft land use plans fail to provide certainty for local communities, and do not provide clear legal protection for water, wildlife and natural areas.

Please take ten minutes to write a personalised submission in response to the draft land use plans, setting out your concerns about the impacts of mining and gas, and calling on government to take real action to protect local communities and the environment.

Submissions are due by 5.00pm on Thursday, 3 May.  

You can send you submission by email to   

To download the draft regional land use plans and aquifer interference policy, visit:

If possible, personalise your submission with information about you and your local community.

Points that you may wish to make in your submission:

·       I am deeply concerned about the impacts of rapidly expanding mining and coal seam gas development on our wildlife, water, farmland and local communities.

·       I strongly support the protection of sensitive natural areas and strategic agricultural land, and call on you to honour your election commitment to place these areas off limits to mining and gas development.

·       The draft land use plans for the Upper Hunter and New England North West do not reflect the balance between mining, agriculture and conservation promised in your election policy. I am concerned that these draft plans set a very poor precedent for other regions across the state.

·       The draft plans fail to deliver certainty for mine-affected communities, and do not provide meaningful protection for wildlife and natural areas.

·       I am deeply concerned about the lack of clear legal protection for areas of high conservation value. Mapping the most important natural areas in the state, only to allow them to be destroyed by mining, is totally unacceptable.

·       The mapping of high conservation value areas in the draft plans is overly conservative, and fails to identify many important terrestrial and aquatic habitats.

·       I urge you to withdraw the draft land use plans, and replace them with plans that:

o      clearly identify sensitive areas that are off limits to mining and gas, including important wildlife habitat, strategic farmland, drinking water catchments and urban areas.

o      provide a clear legal mechanism to guarantee protection of high conservation value lands, through regulations or an environmental planning instrument.

o      apply to exploration licence applications and renewals, recognising the very real impacts of exploration activities on land, water and wildlife.

o      protect public lands, including state conservation areas and state forests, from open cut mining and coal seam gas development.

o      establish a one kilometre buffer around rivers, national parks and nature reserves.

o      establish a five kilometre buffer around residential areas, schools and nursing homes, to protect local communities from health impacts and risk of industrial accidents.

o      properly manage cumulative impacts of mining and gas development on the environment, water and public health.

·       The draft aquifer interference policy is entirely inadequate, and must be strengthened substantially to provide real protection for our precious groundwater resources.

·       I strongly support a moratorium on CSG exploration and extraction, until such time as we have the science, strategic planning and regulatory framework to guarantee protection of water resources, public health and the environment.