In the wake of a series of controversial coal mine approvals, a coalition of farming and community groups have issued a stark joint letter to the NSW Premier, Mike Baird, calling on him to urgently reform coal mining regulation.
The State’s key planning policy for mining is under review, due for conclusion in September, and the 35 groups and individuals on the letter, including bishops, wine-makers, livestock producers and conservationists have penned a joint letter to Mike Baird calling on him to protect our common home from a coal mining industry that is out of control.
Hunter Valley wine-maker, Ian Napier said, “The viability of our viticulture and wine tourism areas around Bulga and Broke remains under threat from mine extension proposals. We recognise that the Hunter Valley supplies coal to power NSW and to export from a substantial number of existing mines, that they provide important employment opportunities, and that this will remain until viable, cost effective alternative energy sources are found. But there are other viable industries that need to be better considered and allowed to also succeed – in particular in our area, vineyards, wine tourism and thoroughbred breeding and general farming. We are concerned with proposals that further encroach on these viable areas and communities such as Bulga. Planning laws must protect our unique region from inappropriate developments, which includes encroachment of existing mines into this area.”
Bishop George Browning, formerly Bishop of Goulburn-Canberra is one of the signatories to the letter and said, “In the wake of Pope Francis’ historical exhortation to people around the world to protect our homelands, foodlands and precious water, people of faith must act to support coal-affected communities and of coal mining reform and protect farmland and water resources before it’s too late.
Liverpool Plains farmer, Rosemary Nankivell, said, “The conditional approval of the Shenhua Watermark coal mine on the Liverpool Plains shows an astonishing lack of respect for not just the farmers of the Liverpool Plains, but for the agricultural industry as a whole. Thirty five square kilometres of open cut mining in the heart of Australia’s richest food producing lands in a critical catchment area for the Murray-Darling Basin is short-sighted and foolish. Farmland and our scarce water resources must be protected and clear planning processes developed immediately.
Lock the Gate Alliance NSW Coordinator, Georgina Woods said, “Coal mining is reaching a crisis point. The current rules are simply not protecting food producing lands, water catchments or public health and other rural industries from the ravages of coal mining. Something has to give – the review of the mining policy is a perfect opportunity for the Premier to ensure mistakes like Shenhua never happen again.”