GREENS: Hunter coal tour uncovers David v Goliath battle

Social, legal and health issues related to unrestrained expansion of coal mines in Australia.

GREENS: Hunter coal tour uncovers David v Goliath battle

Postby HVPA_research » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:19 am

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TAGS: coal.mining,Hunter,WarkwarthMine,Bulga,residents,BMPA,201201

* These are quotes from the Senator Lee Rhiannon blog*

Hunter coal tour uncovers David v Goliath battle


The lunar landscape that is the immediate visual legacy of open cut coal mining in the Hunter is a stark reminder of the ongoing damage being inflicted on this fertile river valley.

I have just spent two days meeting with locals deeply troubled by coalmine expansion in this area. With my colleague Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham we’ll be stepping up our support for their campaigns in this David v Goliath style dispute.

This quote describes the visit to a meeting on Friday 20th January,2012 9:30am at Bulga, an important part of the Wollombi Brook valley.

We also visited Bulga where residents are working hard to ensure that their delightful village, neighbouring Wollemi National Park, does not go the way of these other villages boxed in by bigger and noisier coalmines. We gathered in Bulga Memorial Park with about 20 locals deeply troubled by Rio Tinto’s plans to expand the Warkworth Mine.

They put a very clear case about why this mine should not go ahead. Locals are already subjected to unacceptable levels of noise and dust. Some described how the walls of their house have cracked, they can’t shut some doors properly and they are woken at night by mine operations.

Despite the company and the NSW government entering into a 2003 Deed of Agreement to retain Saddleback Ridge on the outskirts of Bulga, partly as a barrier to mining noise and as a biodiversity offset, the mine owner Rio Tinto is expecting to be allowed to mine and remove the ridge. The noise and dust impact will be extreme as the mine would come within 2.6 kilometres of the town. Some of the locals also spoke to me about the loss of more than 750 hectares of woodland and Aboriginal sites if the mine expansion goes ahead. Habitat of the swift parrot and the regent honeyeater, both recognised as nationally endangered, would be lost.

The area around Bulga is where you can see excellent examples of the Warkworth Sands Woodland ( ecological community. The NSW Environment Department estimates that 80 per cent of this unique ecosystem is found in this area with some of the sand dunes reaching six metres in height.

A frequent comment Bulga residents made to me is about how frustrated they are with the NSW government. A common complaint was “compliance officers comply with what the mines want” and don’t represent the interests of locals.

The demands of the community are very reasonable. They want a ten kilometre buffer around all mines, a stop to coalmine expansion, no gas mining and a planning department that is fair and responsive to resident concerns.
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