Mine impacts should be determined first

Social, legal and health issues related to air and water toxic pollution in Australia.

Mine impacts should be determined first

Postby HVPA_research » Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:34 am

George Souris, the State National Party MP for the Upper Hunter, published a seminal article in the Newcastle HERALD, Thursday April 8, 2010. The article deals with fundamental problems in administration of the coal mining licenses by the NSW State Government.

Image of the original article is located here. If you put your mouse cursor over the image, the cursor changes to + and if you click the the mouse the image becomes larger. To facilitate research quotes from this article we have extracted plain text from the image using optical character recognition software. This process is never one hundred percent accurate and minor errors may occur in the processed text. Please consult the original. if in doubt.

As it turned out, the article can be now also found at http://tinyurl.com/y46mnrs which is the Fairfax News Store.

Mine impacts should be determined first

Let's think more before we act, writes George Souris:

HOW often have you heard one of these sayings? "Woke up one morning and found out I had a coal exploration licence as a neighbour. I had no idea I was in for 10 years of anxiety d uncertainty." Or. "I've never heard of a coal exploration license ever not becoming a mining lease. The planning process is really an approvals process."

I bear it all the time. Sometimes I feel my electorate in the Upper Hunter is saturated with coalmine exploration licenses.

I'll resist overlaying all the other natural resource issues in the electorate, so let's stay on message. How, come these exploration licenses seem to be granted with so little advance public information or community consultation?

It is because the minister for mineral resources' mission is to develop mineral resources. He is always looking for new potential exploration licences, usually after the government has undertaken some initial drilling or aerial exploratind.It is his obligation to exploit the resource and any discussion about it is a matter, in due course, after a development application is finally lodged for another infinite, the minister for planning.

Ah, so it is the minister for planning who has the responsibility of assessing environmental impacts such as air quality, impact on water quality and urban amenity.

But this could be years after the grant of an exploration licence, the payment often of a very fat fee (BHP paid $115 million for Caroona and. Shenhua paid $300 million for Watermark) and a whole host of government departments collaborating with the proponent to reach a conclusion called a mining lease. By the way, there are these amounts again when the lease is granted.

After this, and years of exploration and environmental studies later, how is the minister for Planning going to knock one back? I can only think of one that was knocked back, about 25 years ago, at Black Hill on the Southern outskirts of Musswellbrook.

The question of whether mining should or should not occur at a particular site is never dealt with. There is no place in the planning process for cumulative impacts and we area long way from the reality of protecting prime, agricultural land from mining. It may be that the Upper Hunter Valley has reached saturation point with mining. The cumulative impact of dust fallout alone has reached a point where it may dictate the need for a pause on any new I mining. It may be that with all of that, the compatibility of other industries and their ability to co-exist is at a very fine point. Mine and wine, thoroughbred horse breeding areas, prime farming and grazing land, close proximity to urban areas are all at a crossroads now.

Much more of the environmental investigation, community consultation, assessment of cumulative impacts and consideration of prime agricultural land must surely in future precede the granting of an exploration licence.

We cannot go on like we are. It is prior to the grant of an exploration licence that the question of whether mining should occur at all must be answered.

If the planning process is to have any integrity at all we have to leave behind the level of hoodwinking that's going on; that it will all be considered in the wash-up at the end of the planning process, maybe a decade later.

At that point I'm afraid we are really only debating the conditions of the consent. People have lives to lead, estates to plan, their family's future no less. Bickham is about to enter its ninth year. And yet the environmental issues we are debating today about the precariousness of the water resource and the threat to downstream users are ones that should have been determined before an exploration licence was ever granted. So, we have to embrace a few new concepts as we contemplate the future of mining in our valley. .\

A substantial part of the environmental investigation must move to pre-exploration licence.

An assessment of the cumulative impacts of existing mining must be made before new mining is considered

A determination of prime agricultural land and any other particular facets of the local area must be dealt with before an exploration licence is granted.


The fundamental flaw, even of the planning assessment part of the process, is that it is based on marginal impacts.The applicant has rights of appeal to the Land and Environment Court and has the right to have the development application determined only on its own contribution to environmental impacts.

Any particular applicant is not responsible for the impacts already evident or the general suitability of mining in any given area at all.

----

George Souris is the State National Party MP for the Upper Hunter



Last edited by HVPA_research on Tue Dec 10, 2013 3:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Mine impacts should be determined first (II) original

Postby HVPA_research » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:10 pm

Mine impacts should be determined first (II) - the original article

Here is the original article as submitted by George Souris and before the changes by the Newcastle Herald
editors.

OP ED Newcastle Herald
Coal mines reign supreme in the hinterland it seems ...............
-Let’s think more before we act.
How often have you heard one of these sayings ?
“Woke up one morning and found out I had a Coal Exploration Licence as
a neighbour; I had no idea I was in for 10 years of anxiety and uncertainty .

“I’ve never heard of a Coal Exploration Licence ever not becoming a Mining
Lease; the planning process is really an approvals process.

Well, I hear it all the time.

Sometimes I feel my Electorate in the Upper Hunter is saturated with coal mine exploration licences. There are some that have only just started out (Denman, Yarrawa, Bylong, Caroona), there are some in close proximity of town urban areas that have just been renewed (Gloucester), those that are close to maturity or decision time (Bickham) and those that have odd tags of convenience such as ‘training mines’ (Doyles’ Ck/Jerrys Plains). There are some that have just finished the process and have changed owners and gained a new name so as to not remind the neighbours of the battle they have just been through (Anvil Hill but you can call me Mangoola) and those that I wish would finish their process one way or the other (Castlerock). Some have started construction, as they call it, in recent times (Moolarben, Wilpingjong). There are some that might be re-started (Mount Pleasant, Sadler’s Ck) and there are so many development applications for extensions of existing mining operations it would be unfair just to give a couple of examples. Getting the picture ?

And let me say, I was asked to write this piece about coal so I have to resist overlaying all the other natural resource issues in the Electorate.

Now, let’s stay on message. How come these exploration licences seem to be granted with so little advance public information or community consultation ? It is because the Minister for Mineral Resources’ mission is to develop mineral resources. He is always looking for new potential exploration licences usually after the Government has undertaken some initial drilling or aerial exploration. It is his obligation to exploit the resource and any discussion about it is a matter, in due course, after a development application is finally lodged, for another Minister, the Minister for Planning.

Ah, so it is the Minister for Planning who has the responsibility of assessing environmental impacts such as air quality, impact on water quality, urban amenity, etc.

But this could be years after the grant of an exploration licence, the payment often of a very fat fee (BHP paid $115 million for Caroona and Shenwha paid $300 million for Watermark) and a whole host of Government Departments collaborating with the proponent to reach a conclusion called a mining lease. By the way there are these amounts again when the lease is granted.

After all this, and years of exploration and environmental studies later, how is the Minister for Planning going to knock one back ? I can only think of one that was knocked back, about 25 years ago, at Black Hill on the southern outskirts of the township of Muswellbrook.

Ok, so yes, it can and has been done.

Let me say one more thing before I get on to what we should be changing.
The question of whether mining should or should not occur somewhere is never dealt with. There is no place in the planning process for cumulative impacts and we are a long way from the reality of protecting prime agricultural land from mining.

It may be that the Upper Hunter Valley has reached saturation point with mining. The cumulative impact of dust fallout and air quality alone has reached a point it may dictate the need for a pause on any new mining. It may be that with all of that, the compatibility of other industries and their ability to co-exist is at a very fine point. Mine and wine, thoroughbred horse breeding areas, prime farming and grazing land, close proximity to urban areas are all at a cross-roads now, as we speak.

Much more of the environmental investigation, community consultation, assessment of cumulative impacts and consideration of prime agricultural land must surely in future precede the granting of an exploration licence. We cannot go on like we are. It is prior to the grant of an exploration licence that questions like whether mining should occur here at all should be answered.

If the planning process is to have any integrity at all we have to leave behind the level of hoodwinking that’s going on; that it will all be considered in the wash up at the end of the planning process, maybe a decade later.

At that point I’m afraid we are really only debating the conditions of the consent.

People have lives to lead, estates to plan, their family’s future no less.

Bickham is about to enter its 9th year folks. And yet the environmental issues we are debating today about the precariousness of the water resource and the threat to downstream users are ones that should have been determined before an exploration licence was ever granted.

So, we have to embrace a few new concepts as we contemplate the future of mining in our Valley.

• A substantial part of the environmental investigation must move to
pre-exploration licence.
• An assessment of the cumulative impacts of existing mining must be made
before new mining is considered.
• A determination of prime agricultural land and any other particular facets
of the local area must be dealt with before an exploration licence is granted.

You see, the fundamental flaw, even of the planning assessment part of the process, is that it is based on marginal impacts. The applicant has rights of appeal to the Land and Environment Court and has the right to have the development application determined only on its own contribution to environmental impacts. Any particular applicant is not responsible for the impacts already evident, or simply the general suitability of mining in any given area at all.





George Souris is the State National Party MP for Upper Hunter. [
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Posts: 588
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:26 pm


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