Protest unites mining-affected communities calling for Departmental reform

Published: July 30, 2014

A peaceful protest is underway inside the headquarters of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment in Bridge Street, Sydney, calling for the Department to end its intimacy with the mining industry and restore balance in decision making, or be subject to further and more intense protests. 

Many of the protesters have travelled from regional areas affected or threatened by mining. The protest will submit a lengthy “log of claims” to the Department of Planning, outlining some of the abuses of process, communities and the environment that have drawn them to the protest.

Janet Fenwick, a beef farmer near Singleton, has travelled to the protest because the Department of Planning has failed to honour an agreement to restore a creek that Peabody Coal’s Wambo mine has caused to run dry on her farm.

Mrs Fenwick said, “We have come to the conclusion that we cannot trust the Department of Planning to honour commitments made to landholders that are affected by coal mines. I’m here protesting after years of trying to get our creek restored as the Department promised."

John Krey from the town of Bulga in the Hunter Valley is also at the protest and said, “The Department of Planning has repeatedly sided with the mining industry against the public. Any time a community has even modest success in restraining inappropriate mining, the Department of Planning finds a way to change the rules so that mining wins. We’re fed up.”

Bev Smiles, of the Hunter Communities Network said, “The log of claims we’re submitting today is a damning record of the Department of Planning’s activities in facilitating the interests of the mining industry. There are a litany of failures of process, consultation, enforcement, and basic decency, from across the state. The effect of these failures is utter loss of faith in this Department, damaged water catchments, lost bushland and dislocated communities.

“The black fingerprints of the coal industry are all over this Department, and it needs to clean up its act. We have five very simple and straightforward demands, starting with restoring balance in mining regulation and returning appeal rights to affected communities.

The log of claims and demands of the communities taking action today are available here

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