Today: Hunter Valley residents forced out by Rio Tinto take “New Bulga” village protest to Heritage Minister

Published: August 08, 2016

Representatives from the town of Bulga will be outside the Baird Government’s ministerial offices to communicate directly to decision makers about the injustice of their village being sacrificed for Rio Tinto’s coal mine at Warkworth.

At midday, a delegation from Bulga will meet with Heritage Minister Mark Speakman’s office to ask him to intervene to protect Wallaby Scrub road (adjacent to Bulga) from being mined.

Yesterday, residents of the of the Hunter Valley village of Bulga travelled to Sydney to establish ‘New Bulga’ in the Domain, establishing a new village behind NSW Parliament to symbolise the loss of their community to the impacts of coal mining.

Wallaby Scrub Road forms part of the Great North Road running from Sydney to the north beyond Warkworth village. The road holds both State and Federal Heritage Status and warranted establishment of a protection and preservation organisation funded by both State and Federal Governments and named “Convict Trail Project” (CTP).

Bulga residents and supporters will also be seeking a meeting with roads Minister Duncan Gay’s office. Minster Gay could be the only person left in NSW with an opportunity to minimise harm caused to the Bulga community. As Minister, he has the power to uphold the will of the community and of Singleton Council who have voted not to sell – Wallaby Scrub Rd – to Rio, which they then want to close and mine."

The temporary Bulga village, in the heart of the Sydney CBD, included town signage, hay bales and a ceremony to establish ‘New Bulga’.

What: "New Bulga" community moves to Martin Place
Where: NSW Cabinet office from 7:00am, 52 Martin Place, Sydney

Speakers:

AnneMaree McLaughlin, Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association
Bev Smiles, Wollar Progress Association

Photos and video will be posted throughout the events at:
https://www.facebook.com/Lock.The.Gate.Alliance/
https://twitter.com/LockTheGate

 

Background information:

After fighting the proposed Rio Tinto Warkworth coal mine expansion for more than six years, the residents of Bulga have now exhausted all legal options to stop the project.

Bulga residents previously proved in court that the Warkworth project should not have been approved, after its initial approval in 2012. This victory was snatched away from them when Rio Tinto and the NSW Government joined forces to re-submit and approve the development application.

In approving the project for the second time, the NSW Government stripped Bulga residents of “third party merits appeal rights”, removing their legal right to challenge the merits of the approval in court. This denial of the community's legal rights is now standard practise in NSW mine approvals.

Expanding the Warkworth coal mine will dramatically reduce the quality of life in Bulga village, blanketing the community with air and noise pollution 24 hours a day. Bulga is likely to wither and die, as other Hunter communities that have suffered the same fate, including nearby Warkworth – a once bustling and now deserted community.

The NSW Planning Assessment Commission advised in March 2015 that Bulga may need to be relocated due to the mine expansion.

A full chronology of Bulga residents' fight against the project is available here.

John Krey, President of the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association, said: “We twice proved in court that this coal mine would do more harm than good. Not just for us in Bulga, but for NSW. But our victories were cruelly snatched away from us by an unfair, unjust system that values coal above all else.

“The system is broken. The rules are rigged against us. Communities like Bulga have been stripped of their legal rights to challenge mine approvals, no matter how bad they are. There is no recourse to justice for anyone whose life – or entire community – has been ruined. It is deeply unjust,” said Mr Krey.

 

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