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Rylstone: the wrong place and the wrong time for new coal exploration

The NSW Government is considering releasing swathes of land in an area it calls “Hawkins Rumker” in the historic Rylstone district, for new coal exploration and eventually mining. 

They are seeking public feedback on these plans, so make sure you let them know this is the wrong place and the wrong time for new coal exploration. You have until 18 August to get your comments in via this website.

Here’s some points about what makes the area so special, and why it should be off-limits to coal, that you might want to include in your submission:

  • These lands are rich in Wiradjuri heritage. Publicly available data reveal 26 separately recorded sites including rock shelters with painted or engraved art, camp sites and grinding grooves.
  • The area is part of a very intact landscape with almost two-thirds of it covered in native vegetation and more than 10% known or potential threatened ecological communities.
  • The area contains high value waterways, covering over 63km of creeks in good or moderate stream condition, which are fragile to disturbance. 
  • It includes headwater streams of the Cudgegong River in good condition, which is part of the Macquarie River catchment in the Murray Darling, and the upper catchments of the Goulburn River, which flows into the Hunter and thence to the coast.
  • To the north east, the Rumker release area runs along 33km of the border of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Concern has already been raised at the World Heritage Centre and IUCN about the potential impacts of eight mining operations on the boundaries of the site.
  • There are several records of Koalas in the Hawkins area. A scientific study undertaken by BioLink found that 71% of Koala populations had been lost in six fire-affected areas in northern NSW after the catastrophic 2019/2020 bushfires. 
  • Other important species recorded in Hawkins-Rumker include the critically endangered Regent honeyeater and the nationally-endangered Spotted-tailed quoll, which is reliant on large, intact habitats with oldgrowth elements to survive.

Visit the Department of Planning’s website and have your say by 18 August 2021.

The newly formed Rylstone Region Coal Free Community group (RRCFC) is working hard to  keep the area coal free. Keep up-to-date with what’s happening locally by joining their email list or following them on Facebook and Twitter.

To read more about the natural, cultural and land values of the area under threat, check out this  new report commissioned by Lock the Gate.

(You can find more details about the coal release process on the website of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment here, and a map of the areas here.)