A new report released today highlights considerable benefits for Queenslanders if the expansion of the New Acland mine does not proceed. The Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA) commissioned the report, The Acland Sustainable Energy Plan. Written by renewable energy consultant, Trevor Berrill, the report says the region has far more to gain through sustainable farming and energy production than by increasing fossil-fuel mining.
The report says the mine expansion would destroy more than 1300 hectares of the state’s best cropping land. The huge amounts of water proposed for washing coal could instead be used to irrigate crops to feed 70,000 people.
750 hectares of land earmarked for mining could be used for a solar farm to provide clean energy to about 70,000 homes in south-east Queensland. The solar farm would create between 900 and 1900 full-time equivalent (FTE) job years compared to only 1850 FTE years with short-term jobs through the mine expansion.
The remaining land within the Stage 3 mining lease could be used for both irrigated and dry-land cropping, grazing stock, eco-tourism and conservation of biodiversity values including koalas and rare grasslands.
Local farmer and the Alliance’s president, John Cook said the State Government must stop destroying Queensland’s food bowl.
“This report proves there are better options available than destroying farmland and communities for short-term gains with fossil-fuel mining,” he said.
“On-farm electricity generation and traditional food practices provide farmers with a dual income and a truly sustainable future. Coal mining by contrast degrades the land potential making it unsuitable for cropping.”
Mr Cook said the expansion would:
- Destroy 1631 hectares of strategic cropping land (Queensland’s finest quality);
- Waste precious aquifer water that should be used for crops;
- Have increased adverse health impacts on residents from more noise and dust pollution;
- Create potential flooding problems;
- Destroy the habitat of local koalas;
- Clear more than 40 ha of critically-endangered bluegrass land;
- Result in up to 30 extra (totalling up to 80) uncovered coal trains per week through Brisbane suburbs.
Lock the Gate President, Drew Hutton, said the LNP government had back-flipped on its promise before the last state election not to support the mine expansion.
"Premier Newman and his big business cronies are trying to get the expansion approved regardless of what the community wants. Mr Newman and his bully-boy Jeff Seeney are now trying to stop communities have their democratic right to having mines on their door-step by limiting who can object."
New Hope Coal owns and operates the mine near Oakey, on the Darling Downs. Public submissions on the proposed Stage 3 expansion of the mine close on Monday, 3 March.
To make a submission against Stage 3 of the New Acland mine, you can use this online form.