The Bundaberg community is once again calling on Western Australian coal mining company Fox Resources to abandon plans for the “most locally unpopular coal mine in Australian history” following a recent ruling by the Supreme Court.
The community is also calling on Resources Minister Scott Stewart to stand firm and do the additional work now required to outfox Fox.
Importantly, neither the Court, nor Fox Resources, disputes that public sentiment is opposed to the company's planned coal mine. Rather, the Court ruled that Minister Stewart should have undertaken a more thorough process when making his decision to reject Fox’s Mineral Development Licence.
The area where Fox Resources hopes to build its coal mine is classified as prime agricultural land, and is not far from the world renowned turtle sanctuary at Mon Repos.
Wide Bay cane farmer Judy Plath said, “The Court’s ruling is based on an error of process, and we’re encouraged by recent comments by local Bundaberg MP Tom Smith showing the government has listened to the local community, and has no plans to back down from its opposition to Fox’s proposed coal mine.
“If Fox Resources representatives spent five minutes on the streets of Bundaberg, they would be left with no doubt that this community does not want a coal mine in the neighbourhood. Instead, Fox Resources is trying to steamroll this community into hosting a coal mine it does not want.
“We have already made it abundantly clear to Fox Resources that we do not want to sacrifice prime agricultural land and the water that sustains this district to a coal mine. This Western Australian coal mining company should pack up and head home, and leave us to grow fresh produce for Australians without the threat of a water draining coal mine hanging over our heads. Agricultural land must not be dug up for mining.”
Spokesperson for the Moore Park Beach Action Group, Alan Corbett, said, “Fox’s coal mine would decimate prime agricultural land, pollute the air and water, damage residents' health, deplete scarce water reserves, curtail Bundaberg’s tourism industry, threaten a marine breeding ground for the southern Great Barrier Reef, and destroy community harmony.
“This proposed coal mine is not welcomed by residents. It is also opposed by the Bundaberg Regional Council, local farmers, irrigators, both local state representatives, the federal member for the seat of Flynn, and conservationists.”
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland Coordinator Ellie Smith said, “Bundaberg and the Wide Bay Burnett is renowned for its rum and its ginger beer, its crops like macadamias, avocados, and watermelons, and its pristine environment and beaches where threatened sea turtles come to lay their eggs.
“All this would be threatened should Fox Resources be allowed to build a dirty, polluting coal mine.
“I have never seen a community so united against a coal mine as this one. From the council, to the growers, to business owners, and the average person on the street, it is beyond clear that the people of Bundaberg and the wider region do not want this coal mine. Fox Resources’ proposal really is a contender for the most locally unpopular coal mine in Australian history.
“Minister Stewart did the right thing by rejecting this proposal early in the process before the company wasted millions on exploration and assessments.
“Communities deserve clarity on where mines are and aren’t allowed. Our current planning laws just aren’t up to the job. Lock the Gate is calling for no-go zones that prohibit mining and gas development on prime agricultural land, near towns, and over key water resources to give certainty for everyone."