Local farmers from the Bylong Valley have launched a new TV advertisement calling for permanent protection from mining, following what they have described as an insulting campaign by the Minerals Council of NSW.
The ad calls on the NSW Premier and Deputy Premier to protect Bylong for good, following the decision by the Independent Planning Commision (IPC) to reject the controversial and damaging KEPCO coal mine that was slated for the valley.
The coal mine would have destroyed some of the best farmland in NSW and put groundwater resources at risk.
Bylong farmer Phill Kennedy, who is featured in the ad, said, “It’s crazy to open up Bylong for coal mining when we’ve got reliable underground water which means we can still produce fodder even in this terrible drought.
“The NSW Minerals Council has been attacking our livelihoods with its campaign pushing to have the Bylong decision overturned and the planning commission nobbled.
“It’s insulting that even in this time of severe drought, the mining industry is spending vast sums of money trying to promote mining here at the expense of the water we all need to survive.
“The Premier and the Deputy Premier need to stand up for Australian farmers and back jobs in agriculture, rather than kow-towing to multinational mining giants.
Mr Kennedy also condemned Resources Minister Matt Canavan for flying to South Korea shortly following the rejection of the Bylong project and pleading with the company to appeal the decision.
“Where is our agricultural minister in this?" Mr Kennedy asked.
“Why is our agriculture minister not supporting our battling farmers?”
Fellow Bylong farmer, Graham 'Tag' Tanner, said, “They want to turn this valley into a coal mine, and if they do, it will drain our groundwater and put us out of business.
“We don’t want to have to keep fighting plans for new coal mines here, we’ve already spent 10 years dealing with this one.
“The Premier needs to step up and protect this valley permanently.”
Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson, Georgina Woods, said, “It’s troubling to see the NSW Government this week caving in to pressure from the mining lobby and launching an inquiry into the Independent Planning Commission.
“The NSW Government should be providing stronger protections for water resources and farmers from mining during severe drought, not weakening them.
“The mining lobby shouldn’t be running NSW. It’s time for the Premier and her Deputy to stand up and put farmers and communities first.”
The reasons for refusing consent for the Bylong coal mine can be found in a detailed, 146-page Statement of Reasons published by the IPC. The key reasons were summarised by the IPC in their media release at the time as:
the groundwater impacts would be unacceptable
no evidence to support the Applicant’s claim that impacted Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land (BSAL) can be rehabilitated post-mining to BSAL-equivalent
given the expected level of disturbance to the existing natural landscape, the Commission does not consider that a recreated landscape post-mining will retain the same aesthetic, scenic, heritage and natural values; and
greenhouse gas aspects of the Project remain problematical.