Newly appointed Queensland Palaszczuk Government ministers are being urged to heed the calls of the Central Queensland community of Baralaba, which recently voted by an overwhelming majority to oppose a new coal mine planned for the banks of the Dawson River.
Community members are eager to meet with and present their case to Minister Steven Miles, who has gained the Planning and State Development portfolios following the cabinet reshuffle, as well as newly appointed Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon and newly appointed Resources Minister Scott Stewart.
The results of a Save the Dawson community group survey of Baralaba locals, launched in the weeks leading up to the Queensland election, showed 97 percent opposition to the proposed Baralaba South coal mine - an unprecedented result and process in the heart of Central Queensland’s Bowen Basin coal producing region.
Ninety-nine point six percent also supported reforms to the Regional Planning Interests Act to better protect strategic cropping land.
The call for meetings and reforms comes after the company behind the Baralaba South coal mine proposal, Liberty Mutual, was recently granted another extension to submit its Environmental Impact Statement to April next year.
“It has now been eight years since the project first entered the EIS process, yet community members say the company has failed to undertake any genuine consultation, and locals clearly want the project to be withdrawn,” said Paul Stephenson, whose family has farmed next to the proposed mine’s coal dump near Moura for three generations.
“We are calling for meetings with the relevant ministers to discuss our concerns with this mine and to ensure the will of the community is respected. Our survey clearly shows 97 percent opposition to this coal mine.
“If approved, this project will destroy strategic cropping land, increase flooding, and pollute the Dawson River which so many people rely on.
“The fertile floodplains that Liberty Mutual wants to rip up and destroy should never have been covered by a mining lease in the first place.
“That’s why we are also calling for reform of the Regional Planning Interest Act, so all prime agricultural land, like where this mine is proposed, is permanently off limits to coal and gas.
“Farmers shouldn’t have to live with the uncertainty of a coal mine hanging over their heads for eight years, and cropping country as fertile as that which sits on the banks of the Dawson River should definitely not be put at risk in the first place.”
Liberty Mutual previously came under fire in June for walking away from insuring the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine on the grounds of its new climate change policy, and stating repeatedly it would not invest in new coal mines, while continuing to push ahead with plans to build its own 100 percent owned coal mine at Baralaba South.