Not Even in Someone Else’s Backyard

Published : Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Because coal-seam gas mining is an unseemly idea anywhere, in particular in the water catchment of the Warragamba; because fracking is a violent extractive process; because the miners’ claims about the benign impact of fracking on the watertable are implausible and, at best, untested; and because this is my backyard, I’m posting the media release of the Southern Highlands Coal Alliance and inviting you to join, if you can, the blockade today on Carter’s Lane.

Angry residents of the Southern Highlands are stopping Hume Coal (70% owned by Korean steel giant POSCO) from accessing a property in Sutton Forest, the site of a proposed underground coal mine. POSCO is attempting to gain access to a property owned by a Carters Lane resident for exploratory drilling. 

Join us tomorrow at the blockade on Carters Lane just off Golden Vale Road !
This resident has signed an Access Agreement to allow exploratory drilling to the despair of his neighbours and the residents of the area. Locals are blockading Carters Lane, a private road owned by another landowner in the area, which accesses the property.

Sutton Forest is part of the Sydney Water Catchment and has one of the State’s most productive aquifers directly over the coal seam. Independent water scientists say that any mining will have a very serious impact on the groundwater in the area.

“It’s unsafe to mine here but POSCO’s pushing on regardless. There’s a huge amount of data available in the area from all the water bores that have been drilled, many right through the coal seam. We are doing an independent water study to demonstrate that this activity shouldn’t take place.” Mr Martin said.

The residents were dismayed by the failure of the State Government’s recently announced Strategic Regional Land Use Plans to provide any firm commitment that projects would be stopped even if highly productive aquifers were in danger or highly valued agricultural land was threatened.

“We think proper processes are available to the government to prevent exploration activities in areas such as this. They’ve tried to have a bet each way and have produced a slate of policies that don’t give any certainty to communities and landowners at all. The anger and anxiety that this is causing to many people in affected communities is heartbreaking.”

The Coal Action Group has asked the Coalition State Government not to renew POSCO’s Coal Exploration Licence which came up for renewal in November 2011.

The determination of the locals to blockade has been increased by the Government’s recent announcement that they intended to offer a 6-year renewal (three times the normal length) to Leichhardt Resources who hold a Coal Seam Gas licence that covers a large part of the Southern Highlands and the Shoalhaven. Leichhardt failed to complete any work on the ground, a fundamental condition of their lease. This is one of 22 CSG licences the government has slated for renewal.

“Barry O’Farrell has promised that exploration or development like this wouldn’t happen in the water catchment. “No Ifs, No buts, A Guarantee” but I’m afraid we are now seeing him renege on his fundamental commitments.” Mr. Martin said.

Peter Martin, Convener, Southern Highlands Coal Action Group 0418 800 111