New mapping and analysis released by community group Lock the Gate Alliance today has revealed that the New Hope group of companies hold coal exploration licences covering 163,360 hectares of farmland on the Darling Downs near Toowoomba.
New Hope is responsible for the controversial proposal to expand the Acland coal mine to stage 3, which the Land Court recently recommended against due to groundwater impacts.
The map is available for download here.
Rick Humphries, spokesperson for Lock the Gate said “This shocking map reveals the full scale of the threat posed by New Hope group to the Darling Downs – they have exploration licences covering more than 160,000 hectares in and around the Downs.
“That’s an area almost as large as Fraser Island earmarked for coal exploration and possible future mining in an important farming region.
“These licences pitch New Hopes future plans directly against the interests of a very large number of farmers across the Downs.
“This is a defining moment for the future of the best food-growing land in Queensland – we need to decide now whether we want food or coal.
“Will we protect our scarce high value agricultural land or will we watch a massive expansion of coal mining suck the life out of our precious groundwater resources?” he asked.
Paul King, spokesperson for local farming group Oakey Coal Action Alliance said “The Queensland Government needs to draw a line in the sand now and protect the Downs from any further coal mining.
“They need to respect the law and reject Acland Stage 3, and put in place permanent protections for the Darling Downs so there are no future proposals threatening the region” he said.
The analysis is based on mapping data provided by the Queensland Government titles database here.