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Uplands Swamps in Sydney Region - Book Review

Upland Swamps of the Sydney Region brings together recent knowledge of these ancient ecosystems. It is founded on the author’s forty years of academic work in upland swamp research and sandstone geomorphology. It takes the reader on a journey that spans millennia from when these swamps formed in the landscape all way to Dr Young’s experience in the politics of swamp conservation and protection.

Read the full review of the book here...

Upland Swamps of the Sydney Region
by Ann Young
144 pages, soft cover, 59 illustrations and 12 tables
RRP $30 plus postage within Australia

Available from the Colong Shop - buy now

Rocky Hill Mine, Gloucestor

The Department of Planning has released its Assessment Report for the Rocky Hill Coal Project and recommends that the project not be approved!

This is an historic decision because it is the first occasion that the Department of Planning has recommended that a proposed coal project not be approved.

The Department identified the project’s proximity to existing residential areas and its predicted visual amenity, noise, and air quality impacts as being significant factors in its assessment.

"In the Department’s view, the amended project is incompatibly located with respect to the southern fringes of the nearby urban area of Gloucester. The Department considers that the project site is not a suitable site for an open cut coal mine, due to:

• proposed land use conflicts with existing established land uses, in particular rural-residential and tourism land uses; and

• its incompatibility with the underlying aims and objectives of the strategic land use zonings of the Gloucester Local Environmental Plan to protect the scenic amenity of Gloucester township and the broader Gloucester Valley by retaining scenic and rural surroundings for the town.

The Council’s previous Administrator, Mr John Turner, summed up his view of the amended project as 'this coal mine proposal is simply in the wrong place' and is 'simply too close to residential areas'.

The Department shares Mr Turner’s views, which it would seem, are also held by the majority of residents of the former Gloucester LGA."

The full Assessment Report can be found here.

This is a great day for Gloucester and recognition should be given to all those who have shed blood, sweat and tears over the past ten years to ensure that this mine did not proceed.

But this is not the end of the road. The matter has been referred to the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) for final decision. The PAC held a public meeting in Gloucester over two days on 14 and 15 November 2017 to receive comments from the public to help inform its views.

After the PAC meeting, GRL was reported as saying that it would continue fighting to have the Rocky Hill coal mine approved.

It is not known when the PAC’s decision will be announced.

Energy Australia: Energy Recovery Project

Energy recovery plant could supply 40,000 homes, create 300 jobs
December 12, 2017

An Australian-first energy recovery project at the Mt Piper power station near Lithgow is technically and economically viable and could generate reliable baseload electricity supply for an additional 40,000 homes in New South Wales without having to burn more coal.

Those were the key findings from the project’s first phase, announced today by joint proponents EnergyAustralia and Re.Group. The companies said the project could now proceed to the next stage of development, including preparation of a comprehensive study of environmental impacts.

EnergyAustralia Head of Assets Julian Turecek said the assessment showed it was possible to generate around 27 megawatts (MW) of electricity by converting part of Mt Piper to run on non-recyclable materials.

“That’s enough power to meet the electricity needs of around 40,000 typical homes in New South Wales without having to burn a single additional lump of coal,” Mr Turecek said.

“It also makes good sense to broaden Mt Piper’s fuel supply, supporting the plant’s long-term operation. And not only could our energy recovery project mean more local jobs, it would increase the state’s supplies of reliable power.

“We think it’s a great example of the thinking and innovation that will come to underpin a new, modern energy system in Australia,” he said.

The first phase assessment found an energy recovery project at Mt Piper would require an investment of around $160 million, primarily in a new boiler and construction of a loading dock to handle around 200,000 tonnes of non-recyclable materials a year.
The development would create around 300 direct and indirect local jobs during construction, and some 16 ongoing roles during operation.

Re.Group Managing Director David Singh, said over 6 million tonnes of waste is sent to landfill in NSW each year.
“This project will allow us to select and process some of this non-recyclable material into fuel, so that it is no longer a waste, but a safe and useful resource for the community,” said Mr Singh.

“The project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of more than 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, and reduce the need to develop new landfills. The process of converting non-recyclable waste into a fuel to support energy production is done around the world, using proven and safe technology.”

Mr Turecek said while the project was viable and would provide environmental benefits, there was much more work to be done before the partners could make a final decision. He said community support was vital for the project to proceed.

“The first phase showed an energy recovery project at Mt Piper can work. Now we’ll focus on investigating potential impacts such as transportation of the materials, plant emissions, and disposal of the residual ash,” Mr Turecek said.

“Preserving air quality, flora and fauna and quality of life are important to the community and we simply must get these things right. There’ll be ongoing consultation throughout development, because we want to identify all the potential impacts, so that they can be mitigated or avoided altogether,” he said.

Environmental consultancy ERM has been hired to do a full environmental impact assessment over the next 12 months. Meanwhile, EnergyAustralia and Re.Group will complete detailed engineering works and technology selection and progress relevant planning and environmental approvals.

A final decision on the project is scheduled for 2019. If it proceeds, energy recovery at Mt Piper could make its first power in 2021.

Why Lithgow Can be one of Australia's Top EcoTourism Destinations

On the 31st of March 2017, Michael Keats, OAM, gave a speech at the opening of 'Lithgow’s Ancient Natural Gardens' exhibition at Lithgow Library and Learning Centre, on 31 March 2017 about why Lithgow can be one of Australia’s top ecotourism destinations.

Discover the Gardens of Stone west of Blue Mountains National Park, a place of extraordinary natural beauty, wildlife and ancient Aboriginal art. An iconic Australian landscape, now is the time to protect it for future generations...

The Geoheritage and Geomorphology of the Sandstone Pagodas: Paper by Haydn Washington

The towered ‘pagoda’ rock formations of the north-western Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, have a heartland of about 600 km2 , mostly at around 1000 metres altitude in Banks Wall and Burra Moko Head Sandstones. The pagodas are of two types: the ‘platy pagodas’ are generally stepped-cones in shape, with semi-regular ironstone bands, whereas the ‘smooth pagodas’ display less ironstone bands and are similar to many slickrock slopes found elsewhere. The platy pagodas however are an uncommon and signifi cant geomorphic landscape feature, and are distinguished by the extent and regularity of their ironstone banding. The formation of the ironstone banding has involved the movement of iron in solution and its precipitation to form resistant bands, swirls and pipes. Questions remain as to how the ironstone banding formed, however ‘roll fronts’ of reaction between reduced Fe2+-rich water and oxygenated water may best explain the amazing ironstone shapes. The geoheritage value of the pagodas is signifi cant, but is threatened by activities such as longwall coal mining. The pagodas and the associated slot canyons of the Blue Mountains are ideal candidates for future geological and geomorphological research.

Gardens of Stone and Beyond book 8

Book 8 includes 21 walks in the headwaters of Deanes Creek, Rocky Creek and Budgary Creek, places that most only dream of. It documents a rich tapestry of experiences that takes you all the way with these adventurous explorers.

Book 8 also includes valuable information about Threatened Environments and Threatened Species within the Region.

The book abounds with rare and beautiful photographs.

EPA commences Tier 1 prosecution against Clarence Colliery

Media release: 10 May 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has commenced a prosecution in the Land and Environment Court against Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd, alleging a Tier 1 offence relating to the discharge of coal fines from the Clarence Colliery, near Lithgow, last year.

Tier 1 offences are the most serious under the Protection of Environment Operations Act 1997 and come with a maximum penalty of $2,000,000 for a corporation

The EPA will allege that on about 1 to 2 July 2015 a spill incident occurred at the colliery, which resulted in hundreds of tonnes of coal material dispersing into the surrounding environment. Coal fines slurry also entered the Wollangambe River within the Blue Mountains National Park which is a part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

“This was a major environmental incident so in response the EPA has lodged the highest level tier 1 offence with the Land and Environment Court,” said EPA Chair and CEO, Barry Buffier.

Since the incident, the EPA has been monitoring the company’s extensive clean-up operation that has involved the removal of the coal fines from the river by hand. The coal fines have been placed in bulka bags and removed from the remote and rugged terrain using a helicopter.

The EPA has completed a total of 42 inspections, of the drainage line above the Wollangambe River and along the river itself. The EPA is satisfied with the progress of the rehabilitation of the drainage line and the re-growth of plants and rootstock.

The EPA has required the company to undertake a second cleaning of the section of the River where coal fines had accumulated. As of 2 May 2016 a total of 208 tonnes of coal fines had been removed by hand from the River. As the second clean-up continues the EPA has stressed to Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd of the need to progress with care, removing coal fines where this can be done without damaging the river environment.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service has also commenced a prosecution against Clarence Colliery related to the incident. For the details of this prosecution see:www.environment.nsw.gov.au/newsroomexternal link

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy here: http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm.

Make an Ethical Switch - having a positive effect on the world can be as simple as switching your spending to the right company

The Federal Government has kicked off the year by launching a fresh attack on renewable energy. The Turnbull government is determined to abolish both the renewable energy agency AND the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, making it even harder for the renewable energy sector to compete against subsidised coal-fired electricity.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and NSW Premier Mike Baird say they are committed to a renewable future, but they continue to approve dirty coal mines.

Our government doesn’t have a plan for our clean energy future.
If our politicians won’t provide the leadership we need, we’ll have to create the change we need ourselves. Here’s one easy thing we can all do right now. Electricity production in Australia spews out 600,000 tonnes of carbon pollution every day. Households are responsible for about half of that, so imagine the impact if we switched to a greener power company.

Many of the companies that you and I pay to provide electricity own dirty coal-fired power stations. Sadly, as customers we are propping up these polluting companies.

A few days ago, AGL announced it was pulling out of coal seam gas in NSW – which is a tremendous relief for the communities of Gloucester and Camden where AGL is operating. The decision was a huge victory and shows what can happen if we all band together. We're glad AGL made the right decision this time, but they’re still Australia’s biggest carbon polluter because of the dirty power stations they own.

We’ve spent years campaigning to pressure the government to protect our land, water and climate from dirty coal. Now we’re taking on the companies directly by hitting them where it hurts – their bottom line. Let’s walk with our wallets and get our electricity from ethical sources that don’t pollute the atmosphere and cook the planet.
To make it as easy as possible for you to have an impact, we’ve partnered with Ethical Switch to give you up-to-date, easy-to-understand information about how to switch to a clean energy provider.

Who is Ethical Switch?
Ethical Switch ranks electricity companies on their green credentials, commitment to renewable energy, and their treatment of customers. They do rigorous research to establish the rankings and present the findings to you.
They do this solely to promote renewable energy and a greener, fairer Australia. Profits from Ethical Switch's campaigns are then shared with their partner charities – including us at the Nature Conservation Council – which empowers us to do more to protect nature.

When you switch, Ethical Switch will make a one-off $50 donation to us at the Nature Conservation Council, allowing us to keep pressuring government to move NSW away from coal and coal seam gas, and to invest in renewables.
Together we can keep up the fight for a fairer NSW powered be renewable energy.
Making the switch to 100% renewable energy companies is an important part of the campaign to protect special natural places from coal and gas. Opting for green power is a great way you can help stop these damaging projects.
If common sense and science won’t get our politicians over the line, let’s change the markets under their feet.
It’ll take less than five minutes...

Come along to see this terrific (and terrifying) movie at Mt Vic Flicks, at 18:30, on 16 February.

Told in a collective narrative of first person accounts with characters that thread throughout the film. Black Hole is told over the period from 2013 to the present moment. The stage has been set for one of the most intriguing David and Goliath battles in this country’s history. Black Hole is the story of the fight to save the Leard State Forest from one of the most controversial coal mining projects in Australia – Whitehaven’s Maules Creek Coal Mine. Set against the backdrop of the mining industry’s ever-increasing thirst for fossil fuels, Black Hole is an intense and riveting exposé of the tensions between large corporations, the Australian government and the community. Examine the future of coal, corporate responsibility and the rights governments afford to people vs polluters.

Reserve your copy of Gardens of Stone and Beyond 7

Gardens of Stone and Beyond book 7 is currently in the process of publication. Orders are being accepted now for delivery in the last week of February. Go to: www.bushexplorers.com.au to learn more!

Book 7 is all about the last 3 centuries of European occupation of the area and includes stories of such iconic engineering feats as the Wolgan Valley Railway, The Newnes Industrial Complex, and follies such as the proposed Wollemi International Airport and a 6000MW power station at Birds Rock.

The book includes previously unpublished historic photos and interviews with descendants of some of those men who were involved are included. Of course there is a collection of great walks that complements this history.

Urban Geochemical Contamination of High Conservation Value Upland Swamps, Blue Mountains Australia

Abstract: Upland swamps of the Blue Mountains are unique and legislatively protected peat swamp com- munities. This study investigated water chemistry of surface waters from seven Blue Mountains Upland Swamps (BMUS), four within urbanised catchments and three from naturally vegetated catchments. The purpose of the study was to investigate any ionic contamination from urban development. Water chemistry of non-urban BMUS was acidic (mean pH 4.7) and dilute (mean EC 26.6 μS/cm) and dominated by sodium and chloride ions with most other major ions at low concentrations, often below detection limits. In contrast, urban BMUS had higher pH (mean 6.6) and salinity (mean 153.9 μS/ cm) and were dominated by calcium and bicarbonate ions. The results of this study support the hypothesis that urban concrete contamination is modifying the geochemistry of urban BMUS. Further research is required to investigate ecological implications of the contamination and also to explore measures to pro- tect such sensitive wetlands of high conservation value from urban development.

Coal miner's toxic wastes killing aquatic life in protected Blue Mountains river (The Guardian news article)

NSW government to impose pollution reduction program on mine operator Centennial Coal which has breached its licence 65 times since 2000

Toxic levels of heavy metals are flowing into a river of the Greater Blue Mountains National Park, says a new report from the New South Wales environment office. An underground coal mine called Clarence Colliery, operated by Centennial Coal since 1998, pumps waste water directly into the Wollangambe River, three kilometres upstream from the World Heritage protected zone of the Blue Mountains. The report was conducted at the request of the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), which is conducting a five-year statutory review of the environmental protection licence held by Clarence Colliery. The report found concentrations of total and dissolved nickel (0.041 mg/L and 0.037 mg/L, respectively) that exceeded Australian drinking water guidelines. Nickel, sulfur, sulfate and calcium were 50 to 100 times higher than natural levels. It noted that the current environmental protection licence held by Clarence Colliery does not specify a limit for nickel and this, along with the licence conditions for other contaminants, should be brought in line with national water quality guidelines. In addition, the current licence sets zinc levels at nearly 200 times the national water quality guidelines. The Wollangambe River flows into the World Heritage-protected zone of the Greater Blue Mountains National Park. In their testing, University of Western Sydney researchers found toxic levels of heavy metals due to wastewater from a nearby underground coal mine called Clarence Colliery.

Gardens of Stone: In Focus Photographic Competition

The Gardens of Stone Alliance has commissioned a special photographic competition to bring attention to an unprotected region on the western side of the Blue Mountains with superlative natural beauty (see map). The Gardens of Stone - In Focus is a photographic competition that offers photographers opportunities to visit spectacular places. Later this year an exhibition will celebrate the pivotal role of photography has played in the protection of nature by being part of a spectacular exhibition.

NSW planning link to send submissions for new draft policy - "Improving Mining polices"
Deadline: 9th July 2015

"The NSW Government is taking a whole-of-government approach to apply stringent requirements for mining applications to give communities better information about projects and reduce costly duplication. The improvements are part of the NSW Government’s wider plan to improve mining regulation and strengthen information available for communities near mining projects. Community and industry consultation is happening in two stages, with the first stage now on exhibition for six weeks until 9 July 2015. The second stage of consultation will involve exhibiting the remaining Integrated Mining Policy documents and will occur in coming months."

Learn more about this policy or have your say about it by visiting NSW Planning's website by clicking the button below. The deadline for submissions is the 9th July 2015.

OEH Science Division's review of Springvale and Angus Place Mine Extension EISs has been released

"Mining-related damage has occurred to shrub swamps on the Newnes Plateau. In OEH’s view, the current EISs for Springvale and Angus Place expansions contain very similar conclusions to the 2006 application, despite the now well-documented scientific evidence to the contrary."

Stop Springvale Colliery's Extension Plan - Write to the Planning Assessment Commission

The proposed expansion of Springvale Colliery, a longwall mine, will damage core values of the Gardens of Stone region, if approved. There is a chance to stop the damage, and making a submission to the Planning Assessment Commission will help.

If you want the Gardens of Stone Alliance to keep you up to date, then select this option at the bottom of the form. Please tell your friends to make a submission, which are due before 1pm, Friday May 22, 2015.

Details regarding the PAC's May 27 public meeting and the Department of Planning and Environment's assessment report are here. The Department, perhaps in response to political pressure, has proposed weak conditions. Centennial Coal is attempting to maximise coal yield and get away with continued environmental abuse.

Fill out the webform submission guide here and put your concerns to the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) in your own words.

Submissions invited on licence variation of Clarence Colliery’s Environment Protection Licence

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is conducting a five year statutory review, required under section 78 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act (POEO Act), of the Environment Protection Licence (EPL No. 726) held by Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd for the operation of Clarence Colliery near Lithgow.

The review is focusing on the discharge of pollutants into the Wollangambe River.

The EPA is proposing to vary the EPL to put in place limits on nickel, salinity, and temperature of the discharge, as well as introduce a legally-binding Pollution Reduction Program requiring the company to reduce the concentration of pollutants in the discharge.

Under section 58(6) of the POEO Act the EPA invites public submissions on the proposed variation to the EPL.

A copy of EPL 726 is available at: http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/prpoeoapp/

All submissions received will be considered by the EPA.

Please address your submissions to:

The Regional Manager, Environment Protection Authority,

PO Box 1388, Bathurst, NSW

or email to: central.west@epa.nsw.gov.au

Submissions close 5pm Friday, November 21, 2014.

For more information contact Richard Whyte (02) 6332 7600

Aunty Helen from Mingaan Aboriginal Corporation visits Ben Bullen State Forest

Lithgow Environment Group members had the pleasure and respect of Aunty Helen from Mingaan Aboriginal Corporation - Wiradjuri land visiting a Aboriginal site in Ben Bullen State Forest.

Aunty Helen spoke at this site asking for all to respect and preserve Aboriginal heritage. Our heritage lies within the landscapes like pages in a book, if you remove or destroy this history it is gone forever, no different to destroying a valuable book, or European Heritage structures. Our nations across the world traditionally care and protect our valued heritage of European Heritage so too should that same respect be for our Heritage. Aunty Helens final words spoken were that we welcome Government departments, industry to be inclusive with their approach when making determinations and that we equally be included with all aspects of this process.


Help stop development proponents from choosing environmental consultants who favour their interests over yours.

PictureSign the petition now!
Environmental consultants whose work is often relied upon by assessing authorities such as Councils, are largely unregulated. The current, unregulated system, favours corruption and bribery. "Give me what I want and I'll pay you extra; don't give me what I want and I won't pay you" situations are far too commonplace. This means that decision-makers are assessing projects from small scale clearing of native vegetation to accommodate a house, through to major clearing for mining and infrastructure projects based on the advice of consultants chosen and paid for by the proponent.

If you too would like to see authorities given accurate and honest advice about the environmental implications of development and other projects, please sign the petition by clicking here or the button below. It only takes a few seconds of your time to support the regulation of environmental consultants, to stop the corruption, and protect your interests.

Lithgow Environment Group, Blue Mountains Conservation Society and Colong for Wilderness speak up on Coalpac proposal on ABC Lateline

PictureClick here to watch the video segment online.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Broadcast: 02/05/2014
Reporter: Ginny Stein

Conservationists in NSW are battling a coal mining company to protect what they say is a unique landscape known as "Pagoda Country", an area bordering the world heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park.

TranscriptEMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Conservationists in New South Wales are battling with a coal mining company to protect what they say is a unique landscape. Known as Pagoda country, the area borders the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park.

Ginny Stein reports.

GINNY STEIN, REPORTER: For millions of years these rock formations have guarded the western edge of the Blue Mountains.

HAYDN WASHINGTON, VISITING FELLOW, UNSW: We're in the heartland of Pagoda country here which are these amazing rock formations. So you get towers, lost cities, temples, whatever you want to call it, little tables, chairs - so it is really nature as a sculptor that you're getting here.

GINNY STEIN: A geological treasure-trove, they tower over NSW oldest coalfields and they're now at the centre of a battle to safeguard them from future mining operations.

HAYDN WASHINGTON: There's only about 60,000 hectares of Pagoda country in all and we only actually got half of that put into the National Park which is now a World Heritage area and some of the best stuff is outside here which is being threatened by mining companies.

GINNY STEIN: Underground mining has been a mainstay of this region for more than 100 years but mining company Coalpac also runs a small open-cut operation. Its push to expand this has triggered a new phase in the battle to protect the Pagoda country.

CHRIS JONKERS, LITHGOW ENVIRONMENT CENTRE: Cullen Bullen has been a mining area for over 100 years but it's been underground mining and this area has contributed to the economy of the Lithgow community greatly by having been already underground mined. It's given a lot of coal. Why do we now have to blitz everything to get the last remnants? I think it seems such a waste.

GINNY STEIN: Knocked back on a much larger expansion plan last year, Coalpac has returned, armed with a smaller proposal.

IAN FOLLINGTON, CEO, COALPAC MINE: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for coming. It's my pleasure to welcome you to the first of our community information session.

GINNY STEIN: There's a lot on the line here in the mining village of Cullen Bullen.

Two massive Centennial Coal proposals put drinking water and the Gardens of Stone at risk

Centennial Coal has today unveiled plans for two massive longwall projects that would pollute Sydney’s drinking water supply and undermine more than 5,000 hectares of forest and pagoda rock formations in the Newnes State Forest, north of Lithgow.

Nature Conservation Council CEO Pepe Clarke said the company’s applications were a significant risk to the environment and a slap in the face for the people of the Blue Mountains who have fought to protect its waterways from industrial pollution.

“Just three years ago, the Blue Mountains Conservation Society won a landmark legal settlement that stopped Delta Electricity’s Wallerwang power station dumping boron, zinc, arsenic and aluminium into the Coxs River,” Mr Clarke said. [1] [2]

“Now Centennial Coal plans to pump up to 43 million litres of contaminated water a day into the same river, which feeds into the Lake Burragorang, an important part of Sydney’s drinking water supply. Under the current proposal, the mine water would be released into the river untreated, despite having elevated salt and heavy metal levels.”

Mr Keith Muir, director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, said many nationally endangered shrub swamps on Newnes Plateau would be destroyed by the proposed mines.

“These mines would also put at risk 17 nationally endangered shrub swamps and 31 hanging swamps in the iconic Gardens of Stone region,” Mr Muir said. “Centennial Coal claims it can protect the shrub swamps from damage, but given the huge quantities that will be pumped to keep these two mines dry, you would be naive to believe the swamps would not be harmed.

Mr Muir said Centennial had a track record of damaging sensitive environments. In 2011, Springvale Coal and Centennial Angus Place agreed to pay $1.4 million because of the damage they caused to swamps.

Ms Tara Cameron, Senior Vice President of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, said the projects would affect Carne Creek, which has previously not been damaged by coal mining.

“The areas proposed for mining are highly sensitive environments of outstanding beauty and scientific significance. It will be a crying shame if there were wrecked,” she said. “The mining may also have an impact on the Emirates Resort, which is downstream.”

Chris Jonkers, Vice President of the Lithgow Environment Group said: “I’ve seen what Centennial Coal has done to shrub swamps on Newnes Plateau. After mining, the surface sandstone cracks and that then permanently drains the swamps.

“Where the Wolgan River drops off Newnes Plateau, a once scenic waterfall speaks the truth about Centennial’s longwall mining. Its silence is more articulate than all the mining experts’ evidence in the many volumes contained in these two environmental impact statements. Longwall coal mining has killed the Wolgan River.”

Nature Conservation Council Media Officer James Tremain 0419 272 254
Colong Foundation for Wilderness Director Keith Muir 0412 791 404
Blue Mountains Conservation Society Senior Vice President Tara Cameron 0419 824 974
Lithgow Environment Group Vice President Chris Jonkers 6355 1179


[1] http://www.smh.com.au/environment/water-issues/power-company-says-river-pollution-to-stop-20111017-1ltdz.html#ixzz2ypHZnvzn
[2] http://www.edonsw.org.au/pollution_cases


Springvale Colliery EIS: http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/page/development-categories/mining--petroleum---extractive-industries/mining/?action=view_job&job_id=5594
Angus Place Colliery EIS: http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/page/development-categories/mining--petroleum---extractive-industries/mining/?action=view_job&job_id=5602

Coalpac proposal to mine in the Gardens of Stone is back from the dead

Colong Foundation for Wilderness Blue Mountains Conservation Society Nature Conservation Council Lithgow Environment Group

Environment groups are outraged that a company under administration has lodged an application to restart and expand a coal mine in the Gardens of Stone near Lithgow that is very similar to a project that has been rejected already by state planning bodies.

Today Coalpac Pty Ltd has placed on public exhibition a development application under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act to mine 315 hectares of the Ben Bullen State Forest, next to the township of Cullen Bullen.

The project is the latest version of a proposal to mine the beautiful pagoda country that the Department of Planning and Infrastructure and Planning Assessment Commission have rejected because unacceptable environmental impacts.

“Proposals to expand existing mining operations in this area have already been rejected by the government agencies following a strong grassroots campaign,” Nature Conservation Council of NSW CEO Pepe Clarke said.

“It is very disappointing that Coalpac has been permitted to submit new plans to destroy a significant area in the Gardens of Stone region, an area that the Office of Environment and Heritage has recommended should be protected in a conservation reserve.

“The planning system in NSW should provide certainty to the community, but this latest twist in Coalpac tale serves only to undermine public confidence that the government is putting the interests of the environment and the wider community ahead of the powerful mining industry.”

Mr Keith Muir, director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, warned that mining companies had a history of lodging applications for small projects that they expand through a series of modifications.

“We fear that this is exactly what will happen in this case if this ill-conceived project is approved,” Mr Muir said. “Mining the Ben Bullen State Forest should not be allowed to progress in stages, when the overall scheme was found to be inappropriate only last year.

“The new proposal is only to get the project rolling, and has nothing to do with funding rehabilitation as the company has claimed.”

Ms Tara Cameron, Senior Vice President of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, said: “Coalpac argues that the mine is needed to pay for environmental rehabilitation of new and historical damage. This reveals that Coalpac has not rehabilitated land as required by previous mine approvals. How can this company be trusted?

“This new plan will exterminate all plants and wildlife within the open-cut area. This habitat is home to lyrebirds, spotted-tail quolls, squirrel gliders, the critically endangered leek orchid and the grey-headed flying fox. The Ben Bullen State Forest is a precious pagoda wonderland that must be reserved.”

Chris Jonkers, Vice President of the Lithgow Environment Group said: “Coalpac claims that, unlike its earlier proposal, this mine will not have a significant impact on threatened species and communities listed under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

“The company makes this claim even though the mine area overlaps and lies within the previous open-cut plan.

“The endangered persoonia marginata has been found within the area but was not identified in Coalpac’s reports. The reliability of mapping done by Coalpac’s consultants has recently been questioned and reported by Radio National’s Background Briefing program, The trouble with offsets, aired March 16.”

Media contacts
Nature Conservation Council – Media Officer James Tremain, 0419 272 254.

Colong Foundation for Wilderness - Director Keith Muir, 0412 791 404.

Blue Mountains Conservation Society - Senior Vice President Tara Cameron, 0419 824 974.

Lithgow Environment Group - Vice President Chris Jonkers 6355 1179.

Protect the Laws that Protect the Places You Love

TAKE ACTION or essential federal powers over the environment will be handed to the states. Last week, thirty-three UN Environment Program Global 500 Laureates delivered Prime Minister Gillard a letter urging her not to abandon national environmental protection (for more info, see HSI letter). Its time you wrote too.

As you all know the federal and state governments, in bed with the mining industry and big business, have a “Master Plan” to wind back essential environmental protection laws right across Australia.

We must take action now to stop important and essential federal approval powers being handed to the states.

Federal protection for threatened species will go. This will mean, for example, that the Federal protection of the upland swamps in the Gardens of Stone would be delegated to the NSW Government’s regulators who allowed their destruction!

You know that in NSW nature is under attack more than ever before. The threats to our land, water and wildlife in New South Wales from development will get worse if Federal powers are handed to the NSW Government.

History has shown us that state governments often put development before protection of iconic natural areas:

  • It was the Federal government that stopped oil rigs on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • This year cattle grazing was stopped in the Victorian Alps by Federal environmental laws but now cattle farming is to be legitimised in the River Gum National Parks in NSW under a state law.
  • The majestic Franklin River flows wild and free but the Kowmung River could be drowned by the Infrastructure NSW’s plan to raise the Warragamba Dam wall by 23 metres.
  • A new coal port in the pristine Shoalwater Bay wilderness was stopped by Federal environmental laws but the NSW Government has for thirty years done nothing to stop the Clarence Colliery’s pollution of the Wollangambe River in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

Don’t let the Federal government walk away from its environmental responsibilities. In the face of the onslaught on the environment by various state and territory governments around Australia, Federal environmental laws must be strengthened to safeguard Australia’s natural heritage for future generations.

Take action today at: www.placesyoulove.org.

Download file: HSI_Strong_national_environmental_protection_laws.pdf

Send a Message to Stop the Coalpac Proposal, and Protect the Gardens of Stone from Destruction

Submissions from the public regarding open-cut coal mining in Lithgow's own, beautiful Gardens of Stone National Park are currently being taken.

If you agree that this public forest should not be destroyed by open-cut coal mining, but protected for nature conservation, recreation and tourism, then please consider making a submission to Planning NSW.

Making a submission is as easy as clicking here, filling out the form, and hitting Submit. It would be better for you to include your own comments, and, better still, to write the submission in your own words, but this is entirely optional.

Help protect the Gardens of Stone, and make a submission today!

Scientific paper on the soils of Lithgow by Marek Rouillon, Professor Mark Taylor, and Associate Professor Damian Gore of Macquarie University released.

Here are some highlights from the paper:

• Clear evidence that urban soil metal contamination is not limited to major cities.

• 0–2 cm sample compared with 40–50 cm depth reveal metal enrichment.

• 5 sites exceed the Australian Pb guideline of 300 mg/kg for residential areas.

• Strong correlations and spatial distributions suggest traffic related sources.

Read the full report here.

A Senate inquiry has just been launched into claims a key environmental policy, offsetting, is falling over.

Sunday 16 March 2014 8:05AM

Environmental offsets are supposed to compensate for ecosystems and biodiversity that are bulldozed to make way for development. But there’s mounting evidence the policy is being subverted, as governments approve controversial offsets across Australia. Di Martin investigates.

A Senate inquiry has just been launched into claims a key environmental policy, offsetting, is falling over.

Under offsetting, developers have to compensate for what they're bulldozing. They need to protect other properties that contain the same sort of vegetation and habitat as what's being cleared.

To me it is akin to some guy going into that art gallery and pointing at the Mona Lisa on the wall and 'saying sorry mate we need that bit ... so the Mona Lisa has to go. But we will paint you another one'.

Professor Richard Hobbs, ecologist:
"The promise of offsetting is that development can happen and biodiversity will be no worse off. However offsets have always been controversial and an increasing number of scientists, ecologists and conservationists say there are many loopholes and the policy is being manipulated by governments who won't say no to developers."

Federal Greens Senator Larissa Waters pushed for the Senate inquiry, listing five developments for investigation.

They include the Abbot Point Coal Terminal and Waratah Coal's Galilee Coal Project in Queensland, the Jandakot Airport in Perth, and the Maules Creek coal mine in northern NSW.

Clearing has already begun on the Maules Creek mine site, destroying critically endangered white box gum grassy woodland which is down to 0.1 per cent of its original range.

The mining company, Whitehaven Coal, says it's protecting large areas of critically endangered box gum woodland on its offset properties.

But local ecologist Phil Spark says Whitehaven's claims are wrong. He took Background Briefing to the two largest offset properties in an area marked as white box grassy woodland.

'We are looking around us and we see the dominance of stringy bark, probably 80 per cent stringybark. And it's not white box at all,' Mr Spark said.

There are now four local ecologists who've looked at Whitehaven Coal's offsets and found serious problems.

Dr John Hunter is a botanist who specialises in critically endangered communities and has helped develop offset plans for other mines. He has prepared a preliminary report on 1600 hectares of Whitehaven's offsets, and says that 95 per cent of their mapping is wrong.

'I think there's at maximum, five per cent of what they are saying is box gum woodland there,' he said. 'All of the dominance that we found there, are actually trees that they haven't listed as occurring.'

Instead, the dominant trees that Hunter found were stringybark, New England blackbutt, orange gum and Bendemeer white gum, which weren't represented in the mapping.

'The maps are patently wrong. They are just completely wrong,' he said.

Another local ecologist, Wendy Hawes, sat on an expert panel that wrote the condition criteria used to identify box gum grassy woodlands. She has looked at four areas mapped as box gum grassy woodland, and found hardly any at all.

'It is not the community they claim it is,' she said. 'There are within their offset areas ... small patches that could potentially meet the [criteria], but they are very small areas, so they are a couple of hectares. Nothing like the hectarage they are claiming.'

'So the majority of the stuff that they are protecting its stringy bark communities. Not white box,' Hawes said.

Neither the state nor the federal government did on the ground surveys of the offset sites before approving the Maules Creek mine.

Whitehaven Coal's CEO Paul Flynn was not available for interview, but the company said in a statement that it is committed to meeting its offset obligations. It also claimed that reports critical of its offsets are incomplete and deliberately distorted, and the company is protecting an area far larger than what is being cleared on the mine site.

The dissenting ecologists agree that Whitehaven's offset area is larger, but maintain the vegetation it contains is not the same as what is being bulldozed.

When the Maules Creek mine was approved, Whitehaven Coal was required to complete an independent review of the offset sites. That report has been handed to the Federal government, but has not been released.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt declined to be interviewed, but issued a statement saying he's aware of the issue, and his department is now considering the independent review.

The department recently told a Senate estimates hearing that it's investigating what it calls a criminal matter regarding the Maules Creek offsets. It is a crime to be reckless or negligent in providing false or misleading information about offsets.

The Environment Department said it could be some months before its investigation is complete.

The ANU's Phil Gibbons, who helped develop offset policy for the federal and NSW governments, says the theory behind offsetting is very attractive.

'A fair-minded person would agree that if a developer destroys some of Australia's natural capital in making a buck, then they should really offset that impact elsewhere,' he said.

'But the devil is in the detail.'

Gibbons said he sees an increasing number of examples where governments are cutting corners. Some offsets are not like for like and others are not being properly managed or restored. Some sites have been approved that weren't in danger of being cleared or lost in the future.

'Anything that you do in terms of an offset must be a genuine gain, must be something that would not have happened anyway as under business as usual,' Gibbons said.

'I think what people are doing is getting very creative in finding biodiversity gains when really they are things that would have happened anyway.'

With less and less good quality bush to be found, developers are putting up old cattle paddocks and mine sites as offsets, land which they say will be restored to its original state.

However, according to restoration ecologist Professor Richard Hobbs, those sites can take decades to develop, and there's no guarantee they will be the same as what was cleared.

He scoffed at the idea that Australia's biodiversity will be no worse off under offsetting, and called the practice 'a Faustian pact'.

'I'll say it's a furphy. To me it is akin to some guy going into that art gallery and pointing at the Mona Lisa on the wall and saying sorry mate we need that bit ... so the Mona Lisa has to go. But we will paint you another one.'

'We run the risk of trading something irreplaceable for the short term development gains with the mirage of having a good conservation outcome in the future through the activities of the offset.'

Related Media

Download: NSW Coalpac Consolidation Project - Cumberland Ecology Ecological Impact Assessment Appendix J, March 2012

Download: NSW Coalpac Consolidation Project - Cumberland Ecology response to PAC merit review Appendix E part 1 of 3

Download: NSW Coalpac Consolidation Project - Dept of Planning & Infrastructure DG Environmental Assessment Report to reject Coalpac, June 2013

Download: NSW Coalpac Consolidation Project - Environmental Assessment - Main Report - Hanson Bailey March 2012

Download: NSW Coalpac Consolidation Project - Environment groups say 75 plants missed in ecological surveys May 2011

Download: NSW Coalpac Consolidation Project - PAC Review Report Appendices A to E including Cumberland letters to review

Download: NSW Coalpac Consolidation Project - Planning Assessment Commision Review Main Report Dec 2012

Image: In January 2014 over 100 people shut down construction at the Maules Creek mine. The protesters used tripod structures to block entry to the mine. (Flickr/Leard State Forest Alliance)

New Coalpac open-cut proposal threatens the Gardens of Stone region and the amenity of Cullen Bullen

Media Release. Tuesday 4th March, 2014

“Coalpac, a mining company under administration, has today lodged a referral under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999 to mine over 300 hectares in the Ben Bullen State Forest, next to the Cullen Bullen township. Coalpac claims its new proposal does not need to be regulated under Federal environmental laws, despite its last proposal being over the same area that was opposed by a Planning Assessment Commission and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure,” Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness said.

“Coalpac wants to mine in stages what it was refused to mine last year. For a company under administration to lodge a high-risk development proposal, for a very similar scheme to the one ruled as inappropriate only last year is foolhardy,” Mr Muir said.
“We cannot be sure that Coalpac has the resources to properly undertake this highly controversial proposal in an environmentally sensitive area”, he said.

“This new open-cut mine proposal will impact upon nationally threatened species, just like the previous proposal, and it will impact on a very precious Gardens of Stone landscape that should be protected in a reserve. The people of Cullen Bullen need to be protected from the impacts of open-cut mining and a new reserve would do just that,” said Mr Muir.

“In September 2013 the Department of Planning and Infrastructure recommended against almost a similar proposal. At that time the Department found that ‘the Coalpac site has significant conservation value’. Nothing has changed to make the area of any less significance,” Mr Muir said.

“In December 2012 a Planning Assessment Commission has found that, ‘the benefits of the project are substantially outweighed by the breadth and potential magnitude of the impacts. The Commission therefore recommends that the project should not be approved’”, said Mr Muir.

“Coalpac claims that the new proposal is to provide coal to the local power plants, but Centennial Coal is on record as saying that it can provide ample quantities of coal, as it has done in the past for decades”, Mr Muir said.
“Coalpac should be getting its affairs in order as a company under administration should, instead of undertaking a speculative open-cut mining proposal,” said Mr Muir.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)

CEEMAC P.L. seeking petroleum exploration license in Lithgow

LEG contacted Chris McPherson on 19th December 2013 as the same Petroleum Exploration Licence Application No. PELA158 was in Lithgows Mercury Public Notices. Here is information and links that may be useful to you in seeing if your property may be affected. You can also contact NSW Trade & Investment staff on 02 49316512 or see Chris McPherson's number below. Further to your inquiry about gas exploration permit PEL158 in NSW.

Below is a link to a draft web site that contains a slightly larger copy of the published map and also aims to explain what we are hoping to do and why:


In relation to any specific property, the NSW department of resources has an online tool that allows you to pinpoint any property and understand what petroleum and mineral leases may apply to the resources under or around a property. This will help you know if your specific property is included in the area covered by this application.


I hope this is helpful, if you have any further questions please feel free to give me a call on 0439 652119 or email me at: chris.energyx@gmail.com

e) chris.energyX@gmail.com

Energy Australia bail out of Coalpac being investigated by creditors

Energy Australia is in negotiations with the creditors of a failed coal operation in the state's Central West about a possible bail out.

A number of companies, including Coalpac, involved in mining in the Lithgow region went in administration in October.

It came less than a month after a plan to expand open cut operations near the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area was recommended to be rejected.

The administrators have told creditors that Energy Australia is the process of developing a potential deed of company arrangement proposal.

The proposal is likely to involve the companies applying for a modification of the current approvals for the Cullen Valley and Invincible Colliery mines.

If the approvals are granted, Energy Australia would acquire shares in some or all of the companies.

Following the closure of Coalpac's operations, Energy Australia has been left with only one supplier for its nearby Wallerawang and Mount Piper power stations.

Energy Australia is currently in negotiations with ANZ, which is first rank secured creditor, about the proposal.

Protect Gardens of Stone Alliance

The area known as the Gardens of Stone skirts the western edge of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area in NSW. It is an internationally significant pagoda landscape, a bush wonderland of dramatic coloured escarpments, narrow canyons and lonely sandstone peninsulas. The Gardens of Stone is home to hundreds of native plant, bird and animal species; some of which are threatened to extinction.

Some of the area is protected in the Gardens of Stone and Wollemi National Parks and the Mugii Murum-ban State Conservation Area. Other sections are state forests which permit open cut mining.

The biggest threat to the Gardens of Stone is proposed open cut coal mining in Ben Bullen State Forest near Cullen Bullen. Open cut mining rips up every plant and tree on site and unleashes large amounts of dust and other small particles harmful to human health.
We need to remove the threat of open cut mining forever and protect the Gardens for the future. The Gardens of Stone Stage 2 reserve proposal presents a balanced approach to conserve the area through a mix of State Conservation Areas and National Park additions.

Visit the Gardens of Stone
The Gardens of Stone is a stunning place to enjoy. Buy a map of the area here.

Environmental Defenders Offices across Australia to lose funding


Australia’s environmental legal centres have lost their federal funding in a move that could see the closure of some of the nine offices around the country.

The federal government has immediately cut an estimated $10 million boost over four years quietly given to Environmental Defender’s Offices in the dying days of the former Labor government.

The government is also planning to end a long-standing annual payment – which for all but one office was around $90,000 – from July 1, meaning the legal centres will no longer receive any federal funding from mid-next year.

The impact of the cuts will differ around the country with each office having a different reliance on federal funding, with some receiving state government contributions and private donations. But the move is expected to put real pressure on smaller offices in places such as Darwin, Cairns, Perth and Hobart to stay open.

Environment Defender’s Offices provide legal advice and representation to individuals and groups on conservation issues, while also advocating law reform.

In Victoria the Environmental Defender’s Office recently took the state government to court to force it to prepare recovery plans for four endangered species, which it was required to do under threatened species laws, but had failed to do so over many years.

Defender’s Offices are also often used by community and environment groups fighting major developments.

Brendan Sydes, chief executive of the Victorian office, said the cuts would mean about a 45 to 50 per cent reduction in his organisation’s funding.

He said the office was set to receive its next payment under the former federal government’s boosted funding next week, but instead had received a call from the Attorney-General’s department on Tuesday afternoon saying the Coalition government was not honouring the commitment.

‘‘This decision by the federal government demonstrates the hostility that this government has for the many Australian communities using the law to stand up for the places they love,’’ Mr Sydes said.

‘‘We are extremely disappointed that they are terminating a four-year funding agreement only six months into the term.’’

A spokesman for the NSW Environmental Defender’s Office said the decision would mean a reduction of 20 to 30 per cent in its funding.

In October the NSW Minerals Council publicly called for Attorney–General George Brandis to stop funding the NSW Defender’s Office, saying it had always been concerned about the way it had helped stall project approvals.

Environmental Defender's Office NSW executive director Jeff Smith said: "Many Australians who care about protecting the environment will be alarmed about losing their EDOs."

He pointed to the high profile case in which NSW office represented residents of Bulga in the Hunter Valley who won a court challenge against the expansion of a nearby coal mine.

The cuts to environment legal services came as part of the government's mid-year budget update released in Tuesday. In the budget update there is an overall cut of $43.1 million over four years to ''Legal Policy Reform and Advocacy Funding''.

That includes reductions of $6.5 million to Legal Aid Commissions, $13.3 million to National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, $3.66 million to Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, and $19.6 million to the Community Legal Service Program, out of the Environment Defender's Offices were funded.

In the budget papers the government says the funding cuts would not affect the provision of frontline services.

Fairfax Media has sought comment from Senator Brandis’ office.

Senator Brandis told a senate committee last week federal government funding should be focused on frontline legal-aid services, not legal advocacy work.

Read the original article here: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/abbott-government-strips-environmental-legal-centres-of-federal-funding-20131217-2zj2z.html#ixzz2ovvk1EMD

Featured Story: Chris Jonkers wins the 2011 Milo Dunphy Award

Chris Jonkers was presented with the 2011 Milo Dunphy Award at the Nature Conservation Council's annual award ceremony on the 29th October.

Dr. Brian Marshall (Blue Mountains Conservation Society) commented -

"A very well deserved award for Chris and Julie's work through Streamwatch leading to the Coxs River action and the final Delta mediation.

Plus data on the principal water courses on Newnes Plateau

Plus excellent photographic evidence regarding swamp damage at East Wolgan and other swamps including Long swamp

Plus the careful recording of threatened species and endangered communities in relation to Cullen Valley and Invincible mines and the Coalpac Consolidation Project

And perhaps most of all for persisting through a range of channels over the past 7 years+ as LRS/LEG and before that as LEG."

Chris Jonkers 2009
Chris Jonkers and Julie Favell - Streamwatch Coxs River 2008

NSW Planning: "Coalpac Consolidation Project near Lithgow should not be approved in its current form"

Friday, 4 October 2013

The Coalpac Coal Project near Lithgow has been recommended by the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure for refusal due to significant rock formation and biodiversity impacts, stating that: “the department [has] concluded that, while the project would generate economic benefits, its substantial environmental impacts would outweigh those benefits”!

Stay tuned for further updates on the matter.

The 2013 NSW Great Koala Count is on! November 7 to 17

The 2013 NSW Great Koala Count is on! November 7 to 17

The National Parks Association of New South Wales, in partnership with the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative, wants your help to survey Koalas this November as part of the NSW Great Koala Count.

Anyone can participate. All you need to do is register at www.npansw.org.au/data. You will receive an email when the Koala count SmartPhone App ‘BioTag’ is available.

BioTag, an exciting new GPS enabled SmartPhone App has been developed for the Great Koala Count to enable you to instantly record, review and share your sightings of Koalas

The Great Koala Count will, for the first time, provide publically accessible information about Koala location, health and habitat on an unprecedented scale across New South Wales.

Why do Koalas need your help?

Populations of Koalas in NSW have declined substantially as a result of habitat loss and other threats such as disease, fire, dog attacks and vehicles strikes. The habitat which remains is often fragmented and infested with weeds, making it difficult for Koalas to move from one area to another.

As our climate grows hotter and drier, our Koalas are at risk of become the world’s first climate change refugee species. We need to act now to stop this from happening.

By participating in the NSW Great Koala Count you will be helping to build a more detailed picture of Koalas and their habitat use, providing a valuable resource for planning future conservation projects.

Jeremy Buckingham's Speech on Gardens of Stone: "This is what the people of Cullen Bullen face - impacts from coal and a destroyed environment."

22 August 2013

[3.51 p.m.]: This afternoon I speak on the Coalpac Gardens of Stone issue. Coalpac Pty Limited has lodged a development proposal, the Coalpac Consolidation Project, with the New South Wales Department of Planning. Coalpac is seeking to consolidate its existing Cullen Valley mine and Invincible colliery coalmining operations and to continue coalmining under a single planning approval. After an initial Planning Assessment Commission review, which rejected the project, it is now being assessed by the Department of Planning.

The proposed mine will have considerable impacts. The Coalpac Consolidation Project proposal threatens to open cut and high wall mine 843 hectares of the Ben Bullen State Forest. This public forest is the western gateway to the stunning Gardens of Stone area that the Blue Mountains Conservation Society has been lobbying to have protected as a State conservation area. It will rip up and destroy the habitats of 400 native plant and 32 native animal species, some of which face the threat of extinction. In addition, it will prevent the public from enjoying a large part of the Ben Bullen State Forest. The large open-cut mine will create significant dust and air quality issues, which will directly affect local residents of Cullen Bullen and threatens to destabilise a series of internationally significant sandstone pagodas to partial or total collapse.

The first Planning Assessment Commission review rejected the project due to the overwhelming impacts it would have on the village of Cullen Bullen, such as noise, dust and an inability to revegetate the natural landscape. Significantly, the review found that the claimed benefits of the project are largely distributed away from the population bearing most of the impacts of the project and importantly there was no credible evidence for the claimed increases in wholesale and retail electricity prices if the project coal was not supplied to Mount Piper power station.

I hope the Government has not been negotiating the proposed sale of the State's power generators or talking to anyone expressing an interest in this proposal. That would make even former Minister Ian Macdonald blush. I hope the Government is not combining the issues and making commitments that the mine will go ahead because it certainly should not. With respect to dust, NSW Health stated that there was unequivocal advice that the predicted significant increases in PM10 levels from the project will lead to increased morbidity and mortality in the Cullen Bullen community from respiratory and cardiovascular disease. The project does not meet New South Wales air quality criteria for most residences affected by the project. This is a damning indictment of the impacts coal has on the health of communities. It should be a wake-up call for the Government to rapidly phase out coal production and replace it with renewable energy. The high noise impacts fail to meet accepted New South Wales criteria and the project does not meet blasting impact guidelines.

In addition, impacts on the pagodas are completely unacceptable—these are world-class ecological environmental assets that we do not have the right to destroy. The project also places at risk the flora and fauna, as it would clear 958 hectares of vegetation, mostly in the high-conservation value area of Ben Bullen State Forest. There is overwhelming community opposition across New South Wales to this project and incredibly strong local opposition. More than 700 individual submissions objected to the proposal. The fight to save the Gardens of Stone culminated in a rally at Springwood in April this year when residents rallied in the town square calling on the Government to protect the area from further coal expansion.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: Were you there, Jeremy?

The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: No, I was not. Chris Jonkers of the Lithgow Environment Group said: Over 70 cliff collapses and hundreds of cracks have occurred in the landscape, including one case of an entire ridge collapse.

Tara Cameron of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society stated: To allow an open-cut mine anywhere is bad, but to ruin the Gardens of Stone would be intolerable.

A local resident from the area, Jacqueline Seraglio, and her husband purchased the property "Red Springs" in 2007 with the aim of developing it into a productive cattle breeding farm. At the Planning Assessment Commission hearing she stated: We brought our four children here believing this would be the place we could raise them in rural tranquillity. Within two years my husband who is 38 was diagnosed with a lung disorder from airborne matter. He now takes large daily doses of antibiotics to prevent pneumonia.

This is what the people of Cullen Bullen face—impacts from coal and a destroyed environment. The Government should walk away from new coalmines, roundly reject the proposed Coalpac Consolidation Project and protect the Gardens of Stone for all time. [Time expired.]

From the Sydney Morning Herald: 'Acceptable to Putin': Alan Jones fires up crowd over NSW mining policy

Moves to boost the chances of large mining projects being approved in NSW have been lampooned by broadcaster Alan Jones as more suited to Russian President Vladimir Putin than Premier Barry O'Farrell.

Addressing several hundred anti-coal demonstrators outside the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday, Jones told the rally the proposal by the state government was "a denial of the democratic process".

This would be acceptable legislation drafted by Vladimir Putin, but not here in NSW.

Last month, NSW Resources and Energy Minister Chris Hartcher announced proposed changes to government policy in response to a "David and Goliath" victory in the Land and Environment Court by the residents of the Hunter Valley town of Bulga against mining giant Rio Tinto.

The court's decision overturned state and federal government approval for a $3 billion expansion of Rio Tinto's Mount Thorley Warkworth open-cut coalmine.

The draft planning policy proposes to make the economic significance of mining projects the "principal consideration" of the assessment process, which could smooth the way for Rio Tinto to lodge a fresh development application.

Rio Tinto and the state government are simultaneously appealing the Land and Environment Court judgment in the NSW Supreme Court in a case that opened on Wednesday.

Standing on the steps beneath a statue of Queen Victoria outside the Supreme Court and clutching a sheaf of notes, Jones declared: "This would be acceptable legislation drafted by Vladimir Putin, but not here in NSW."

In an address lasting more than 30 minutes, Jones walked the protesters - an amalgam of groups opposed to coal seam gas and coal mining groups - through the Bulga community's three-year fight against the mine expansion.

He accused Planning Minister Brad Hazzard of "intimidatory tactics" by flagging the government's intention to press for costs if it and Rio Tinto are successful in their Supreme Court appeal.

Rio Tinto was engaging in "a blackmail strategy" by claiming "thousands and thousands" of jobs would be lost should the mine expansion not proceed, Jones said. "These people are dominated by greed," he thundered.

The broadcaster also disclosed that he had met Mr O'Farrell over the planned policy change.

"I'm not giving O'Farrell up, but I don't think he's too impressed," he said.

Earlier, the rally heard from a Bulga resident, John Krey, who said the government was "intent on pushing this through and bugger the communities – bugger Bulga".

Read the original story here!
CBLG and LEG at the rally...

Did you hear? Solar Citizens just had a huge win in Western Australia.

On 8 August, WA Premier Colin Barnett announced that he would be slashing the solar feed-in tariff for 75,000 hardworking families who installed solar on their rooftops between 2010 and 2011. This move was a dramatic betrayal of those families who had been promised a fixed tariff for the next ten years.

As soon as we heard the news about WA, Solar Citizens sprang into action. We launched a petition about Barnett’s solar betrayal, sent out media releases and got in contact with industry groups. In just a few days, over 9,000 angry West Australians had put their name on the petition and taken action in other ways, including emailing their politicians, contacting candidates, calling talkback and much more.

And everyone’s efforts worked. In just 96 hours, on Monday, 12 August, Barnett stood outside of Parliament and admitted: “I got it wrong.” Barnett reversed his decision because of the actions thousands of Solar Citizens took.

We’re telling you this because what just happened in WA is an example of the kind of threat solar owners are facing across Australia. The big power companies are deeply concerned by so many Australians taking power generation into their own hands, and they are lobbying state governments to make it harder for current and future solar owners.

As Solar Citizens continues to grow, so does our strength. Please help us to reach more solar loving Australians and stay better in touch with you by liking us on Facebook here:https://www.facebook.com/solarcitizens
In just a few months, solar owners together have done some amazing things. Solar Citizens have made Premier Campbell Newman back down on penalising solar owners in QLD, and now, we can celebrate a victory in WA. All of our wins show the real impact of when people speak up for solar.

Stand up to the coal bullies!

  • Rally to support Bulga and other NSW communities being pushed around by the mining industry and O'Farrell government.

  • Rally to stop proposed new mining regulations that would force authorities to prioritise coal mine development.

  • NSW Supreme Court, Queen's Square, 184 Philip St, Sydney.

11:30 am, Wednesday August 14th, Sydney (previously earlier, rescheduled to allow more time for regional people to get to the city)

Click here to see and share this event on facebook.

Residents, farmers, environmentalists, and community groups will rally outside the NSW Supreme Court next Wednesday 14th August, to oppose draconian new amendments to NSW mining regulations, and to support the people of Bulga, in the Hunter Valley, as they battle to save their town from open cut coal mining.

The O'Farrell Government has joined global mining giant Rio Tinto in a Supreme Court action to force an unwanted open cut coal mine onto the residents of Bulga. The Warkworth Extension mine proposal was previously rejected by a NSW court, due to the unacceptable impacts it would have on public health, threatened bushland, and the ongoing viability of the village of Bulga. The court found that the impacts of the proposed mine far outweighed the economic benefits promised by the mining company. But Rio Tinto and the NSW Government have refused to accept the umpire's decision, and are now dragging the Bulga residents' group into the Supreme Court to get their way.

The O'Farrell Govt has responded to the Bulga residents' previous court victory by proposing draconian new mining regulations that would prevent any court from making the same decision again. A proposed amendment to the NSW Mining SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy) would make it a legal requirement for all approval authorities to prioritise development of “significant resources” of coal over other considerations, such as protecting land and water resources, safeguarding human health, and protecting biodiversity. The proposed SEPP amendment would have far-reaching consequences for any community or industry attempting to protect itself from coal mining. It must be stopped.

These moves by the O'Farrell Government and Rio Tinto are new low points in a widespread campaign of bullying and intimidation by Big Coal against communities. Across NSW, people are tired of being bullied. Mining companies routinely lie to landholders, intimidate communities, and threaten legal action against anyone who would hinder or speak out against them. Coal companies have shown they will do anything to get their way, and the O'Farrell Government has shown they will do anything to help them, including changing the law, and taking local residents groups to court.

Barry O'Farrell was elected to power after promising to restore some balance between the public interest and the coal lobby's interests. “No ifs, no buts – a guarantee”, he said. That promise is now in tatters. The O'Farrell Government is doing the exact opposite of what it promised. It is behaving like the hired goon of the mining industry.

It's time to stand up against the bullies. Join the rally outside the NSW Supreme Court as the Bulga case begins – 11:30am Wednesday 14th August.

For more information contact Steve Phillips, Hunter regional coordinator for Lock The Gate: sjphillips@fastmail.fm

State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) Amendment (Resource Significance) 2013

The NSW Government is seeking feedback on amendments to the Mining SEPP which:

• Ensure the significance of the resources (major or minor) must be considered in the decision-making process as an important, but not the only, factor;
• Stipulate the key environmental, ecological and amenity criteria to protect water resources, habitat and amenity;
• Require that the economic and environmental issues mentioned above are properly balanced; and
• Elevate the importance of the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) in the assessment process, by ensuring a consent authority must consider OEH’s advice on biodiversity mitigation and offset measures.

The amendments aim to increase confidence for investors and the community about how decisions are made on mining proposals.

Lithgow Mercury: Dr Richard Stiles publicly responds: 'Aggressive response a black mark on mining forum'.

SIR: "I would like to offer some perspectives and corrections about last Tuesday’s public forum on mining and LEP issues, at which I was publicly harassed. In fact, contrary to the statements in the Lithgow Mercury on July 25, I did not speak about opposing mining - as a blanket statement. I never have. I well understand the benefits that mining brings to our lives."

Dr Stiles referenced: “It should also be noted that our Mayor in her vigorous support of Coalpac (despite having now declared a family interest in it)“ is probably referring to this: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-20/council-coalpac/4583588 and Item 10 in these Lithgow City Council Minutes: http://archive.lithgow.nsw.gov.au/minutes/13/130617_Minutes.pdf.

Photo courtesy of the Lithgow Mercury.

'Free Speech' escorted out under guard after last Tuesday night’s Lithgow & District Community Forum’s ‘Coalpac Pro-Mining’ Public Meeting.

Here’s the content of a media report in today's Lithgow Mercury under the banner headline, ‘Emotion spilled over at mining forum’:

'The meeting became emotional at times with one woman claiming that children at Portland were already going to school without lunch because of job losses in the industry. Another recently retrenched employee of Coalpac pointedly asked ‘what does Springwood contribute to the national economy’.

But the emotion of the meeting became really evident towards the close of proceedings when prominent local environmental lobbyist Dr Richard Stiles attempted to speak as a lone voice opposing further coal expansion. He had barely begun speaking when a number of men began moving towards him and a clearly angry bystander grabbed the microphone from his hand. He was later given an escort to his vehicle from (Lithgow & District Community) Forum members.

Forum Convener Dick Austen yesterday apologised for this incident and said it was unfortunate that Dr Stiles had not been given the courtesy of expressing his views, unpalatable as they may have been to most at the meeting.'

Click here to read about what our local and well respected Dr Richard Stiles was trying to say on behalf of the uninvited residents of the small Village of Cullen Bullen.

Below are a couple of time lapse (2011 & 2012) photographs of the Coalpac owned open-cut mine surrounding the Village of Cullen Bullen:
Before (2011)
After (2012)

Energy Australia acquires Mt Piper and Wallerawang power stations

From Energy Australia, July 25, 2013:

EnergyAustralia today announced that it has entered a Sale and Purchase agreement with the State of NSW and Delta Electricity for the acquisition of the Mt Piper (1400MW) and Wallerawang (1000MW) power stations and associated infrastructure, for a net cash consideration of A$160 million.

The purchase of the Mt Piper and Wallerawang power stations reinforces EnergyAustralia’s position as one of Australia’s largest integrated energy business, Managing Director Richard McIndoe said.

Mr McIndoe said the purchase of the two power stations would enable EnergyAustralia to operate the plants more flexibly to meet customer needs at the same time as relieving the company of high fixed costs it currently incurs under the Delta Western GenTrader Agreements (GTA’s) which it entered into with the NSW State-owned generator, Delta Electricity, in 2011.

“The GenTrader Agreements gave EnergyAustralia the right to trade the output from the Mt Piper and Wallerawang power stations, necessary at that time to maintain a balanced market position with the related acquisition of a significant customer base,” Mr McIndoe said.

“Consistent with our focus on expenses across our business, moving from a GTA to direct ownership has a number of financial advantages for EnergyAustralia.

“We will be released from high cost fixed contract commitments we currently incur under the GTAs and will gain unrestricted access to the full 2400MW capacity of the plants.

“We will then be able to run these assets in the way we manage our entire portfolio – flexibly managing capital and operating expenditure in keeping with market performance and business priorities,” Mr McIndoe said.

Under the Sale and Purchase agreement EnergyAustralia will pay Delta Electricity a net cash consideration of $160 million which will be funded at completion by existing financing facilities. The total purchase price includes a further $315 million representing the balance of prepaid capacity charges on deposit with the NSW Government as part of the original Delta Western GenTrader Agreements.

Mr McIndoe said EnergyAustralia would work to optimise the power station’s operating and capital expenditure strategies once the sale transaction was completed.

“The Mt Piper and Wallerawang power stations have different characteristics and the consideration for both the GTA and purchase arrangements reflects a blend of the economics and performance of both power stations,” he said.

Mt Piper is one of the newest and most efficient black-coal fired power stations in NSW, while Wallerawang has comparatively lower levels of efficiency and higher fixed costs.

Delta West employees transferring to EnergyAustralia will do so on current terms and conditions and with a number of important guarantees and benefits, consistent with other State asset sales.

“I look forward to welcoming Delta Western employees to our business,” Mr McIndoe said.

“We also understand that we are purchasing two power stations that operate in communities within the City of Lithgow council area. A key priority for us is to build partnerships across the community.”

The targeted completion date for the Acquisitions is 2 September 2013.

EnergyAustralia’s acquisition is not conditional on approvals or clearances from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission or the Foreign Investment Review Board of Australia.

From the Lithgow Mercury: People power needed at coal mining meeting


‘People power’ was both necessary and urgent to counteract the efforts of ‘professional’ lobbyists campaigning to restrict or even shut down the coal industry in the Lithgow area and around NSW, a public meeting in Lithgow was told on Tuesday night.

The meeting was told that around 800 submissions had gone to the State Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, most of them opposing mining in general and the Cullen Bullen Coalpac venture in particular.

For more on the meeting including how speaker Dr Richard Stiles had to be safely escorted from it read today's paper.

Future jobs for the Hunter? Could this also be for Lithgow?

PictureClick for larger...
In the Hunter and Lithgow we need to be offering a just transition for workers and local revenue as much as they do in the Latrobe, similarly dependent on coalmining and coal power jobs.

The difference is that in the Latrobe the unions have recognised this need and the GHG reality of a coal phase-out to come, and with the skills of their workers in mind, have been working towards an innovative solution, the Earthworker Co-operative.

The Earthworker Cooperative is an Australian not-for-profit organisation. Trade unions, churches and environment groups want to build a solar hot water system factory in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria.

I gave it a lot of coverage in my RLWL book in the 'New Frontiers' chapter, and I am a member of this co-operative. See my post 'Eureka – the future we need to foster' (http://sharynmunro.com/?p=3450).

With workers being laid off en masse as the boom busts, and 'jobs' at any cost being the mantra re Warkworth for example, the Hunter needs to hear this, and chief instigator of Earthworker, Dave Kerin, is coming to speak about it in Newcastle, and now Singleton. ( Wednesday 31st July 5.30pm at Newcastle Trades Hall)

I quote Zane Alcorn from the Hunter Community Environment Centre:
"The earthworker project is aimed at setting up a solar hot water unit factory in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria with the explicit aim of generating new jobs for coal workers to be retrained into, so that as brown coal is phased out there are alternative jobs being ramped up."

A unique aspect is that it's not just a factory, there is a very specific and clever way that they will create demand for the units produced there. Workers in various industries will be able to negotiate to get a solar hot water unit installed at their house (or the house of a family member or friend) as part of their enterprise bargain agreement (EBA). This way when several thousand teachers, or electricians - or indeed coal miners - negotiate an EBA at their workplace, they can include solar hot water units as part of it. This creates steady demand for the units built at the co-op.

CFMEU Victorian Mining and Energy District president Luke van der Meulen, whose group has worked to get the Earthworker Co operative set up in Gippsland, said the way the goods were sold ensured Gippsland jobs' viability.

"The uniquely Australian component in all of this is how the cooperative will sell the goods," Mr van der Meulen said.

“The trade union movement has long been at the forefront of innovation in making the world a more liveable place for all Australians."

"We’re not just talking about a solar hot water heater … we are talking about looking at the way we run our lives, the way we run our planet, and taking some control over our own actions.”

Later earthworker plans to grow the co-op and get into larger scale renewables manufacturing. They also want to set up a base in the Hunter Valley at some point. Check out http://earthworkercooperative.com/

Come and join this timely discussion about the burning question of creating alternative employment in communities that rely on coal for employment, as the world starts moving away from using coal. All welcome.

Singleton Bowling Club meeting room, William St, Singleton
10 am Wednesday July 31
(lunch and informal discussion after at the Club)
Dave Kerin from Victoria's Latrobe Valley talks about their Earthworker Co-operative, a project endorsed by the CFMEU, ACTU and Vic.Trades Hall.

Further info from:
Zane Alcorn (Hunter Community Environment Centre) 0401 466 831
Sharyn Munro 0438 052 685

Bulga’s David Toppled Coal Industry Goliath

The following is a media release by Dr Richard Dennis, Executive Director of The Australia Institute, a Canberra-based think tank. It was original printed in the Lithgow Mercury on the 7th May 2013:

NOBODY could have predicted that the might of Rio Tinto would be challenged by Bulga, a tiny NSW town of 300. Certainly, nobody could have predicted that Bulga would win.

But when the Land and Environment Court overturned the NSW government’s approval for the expansion of Rio Tinto’s Warkworth coal mine, citing that the project’s “significant and unacceptable” costs did not out- weigh the alleged benefits, it told onlookers that just because a mining company tells you some- thing, doesn’t
mean it’s true.

Like Bulga, the community of Cullen Bullen wants a second opinion.

Coalpac is currently seeking approval to expand and consolidate its existing Cullen Valley mine and Invincible Colliery operation. Its environmental assessment of the project estimates the expansion would net $1.5 billion in benefits over the course of the mine’s 21 year lifespan. In addition to the 90 workers currently employed, the expansion would create new jobs for 30 miners, as well as short-term construction jobs.

Critics have raised concerns about the impacts of the expansion on the community’s health, the environment, and other industries in the region.

Coalpac says these concerns have been taken into consideration by their modeling, and believes that taking into account the costs of environmental sustainability measures, com- munity investment and health impact mitigation, the project can still operate as a net benefit for the region.

Coalpac’s claims, like those of Rio Tinto, don’t add up. The independent NSW Planning Assessment Commission reviewed Coalpac’s environmental assessment and found that it “appears to grossly overstate the real financial benefits.”

For example, the $1519 million figure consistently touted in Coalpac’s report was arrived at by assuming that there would be no fluctuations in the world market price of coal in the next 21 years. If the global coal price fell by just 20 percent from the benchmark Coalpac calculated it at, the net benefits of the expansion would fall by 42 percent to $881 million over the life of the mine.

In addition, Coalpac is already bound by contractual agreement to a long-term price for its coal around 30 percent lower than current market value.

The Commission found nearly 70 percent of the coal extracted by the proposed expansion would be of such low quality that it could not be exported. Even if it were somehow able to be, over- seas buyers would not pay any- where near export parity price for it.
Coalpac claims that if their expansion does not get approval, electricity prices for families will jump 13 percent. The Commission rejected this assertion. The coal from the Cullen mine will fuel Mount Piper Power Station, which at peak capacity could only supply approximately 7.5 percent of NSW’s energy needs.

The Commission found no evidence of a relationship between the retail price of electricity and the change in supply to a single NSW power station. In fact, it found that contrary to Coalpac’s claims, there is a trend across Australia, but particularly evident in NSW, toward declining electricity consumption.

As there is no reason to suggest this trend will reverse any time soon, electricity prices are more likely to fall, regardless of what Coalpac does. Coalpac’s 13 percent figure can only be arrived at by making a series of enormous assumptions, and as the PAC concluded, “none of these scenarios are plausible.”

The Blue Mountains Conservation Society, in conjunction with the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, has proposed a nature-based tourism and recreation plan for the Garden of Stones area. Some of the land they have requested be set aside overlaps with land within Coalpac’s project boundaries. The miner has suggested that if the government wants both projects to move ahead, it should reduce the Garden of Stone’s boundaries so as to not include any land Coalpac seeks to cultivate.

Although their environmental assessment offers no analysis of the impact the coal expansion would have on the Garden of Stones project, environmentalists suggest that the tourism plan, estimated to be worth $28 to $38 million to the local community, cannot survive if the Coalpac mine goes ahead.

If Bulga’s victory has taught us anything, it’s that mining companies aren’t bulletproof. Communities can challenge miners on their claims – Warkworth’s example suggests they would be wise to do so.

Coalpac may be hoping they don’t.

Premier backs down on sales of NSW generators

From the Lithgow Mercury (July 4th 2013):

"BACKDOWN The latest developments in the on again-off again saga of electricity asset sales comes against the now infamous statement made in Lithgow by now Premier Barry O’Farrell that there would be no sale of the generators under any coalition government led by him."

"NSW treasurer Mike Baird said on Monday that the sale of the state’s remaining electricity generation assets will proceed ‘only if it’s a good deal for the people of this state’."

"He said the previous Labor government had created something of a monster with its plan to ‘throw in a coal mine’ in a bid to attract interest in any sale of the state’s generators" noting also that: "the previous deal was terrible public policy".

Read the original article on the Lithgow Mercury's website here.

National Parks Association welcomes changes to hunting program

4 July 2013

Media Release: National Parks Association of NSW

National Parks Association welcomes changes to hunting program

NPA welcomes the announcement from the NSW Government that the Game Council of NSW has been disbanded, and that the hunting in national parks program has been significantly altered and will now be managed by professional staff of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

"The National Parks Association of NSW is pleased the Game Council has been disbanded by the NSW Government. This confirms our long held view that an agency issuing licenses, advocating for hunters and attempting to change gun culture in NSW is not good for the community," says Justin McKee, Campaign Coordinator for National Parks Association of NSW.

"On matters of the recreational hunting in national parks program, we applaud the Government for completely removing the involvement of minors. Public lands are not a place for children as young as 12 to be practicing their hunting skills now, or in the future.

"The Minister for Environment, Robyn Parker should be thanked for her efforts in Cabinet that has restored her staff in National Parks and Wildlife Service to manage pest eradication programs.

"While a volunteer hunting program is to commence in October, we acknowledge the significant alterations to the program from the initial approach considered, which have largely been in response to our campaign. These include:

➢ All recreational hunters in national parks will be completely supervised by National Parks and Wildlife Service staff.
➢ The trial program will commence in 12 national parks, not 75.
➢ There will be no use of bows and arrows, pistols or black powder weapons.
➢ Parks will be closed when hunting programs are taking place
➢ The training of volunteer hunters must be the same as the training of National Parks and Wildlife Service staff and it includes competency testing.

"Our organisation fully supports the eradication of feral animals by the government. Deciding how that is done should be based upon achieving conservation objectives, and this should guide the parameters of the Minister for Environment's peer review of the Supplementary Pest Control Program.

"We will be watching the outcomes of the trial program closely. We are acutely aware that when hunting was trialled in 31 State Forests, that had expanded to 343 State Forests within 9 months.

"The community has made its opinion on this matter very clear, they do not want recreational hunting in national parks and will not respond kindly to a reinstatement of the previous program over time.

"We ask the Government to apply the stronger protocols we know see in the Supplementary Pest Control Program in national parks to our State Forests. Without this, government investment in pest animal control is wasted.

"The National Parks Association of NSW acknowledge the huge efforts by the community and other organisations such as the Invasive Blue Mountains Conservation Society, Invasive Species Council, Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Public Service Association of NSW, STEP, WildWalks and WIRES on the campaign to stop amateur, recreational hunting in our national parks," says Justin McKee.

Media contact:
Justin McKee, Campaign Coordinator for National Parks Association of NSW: 0404 824 020

Teachers Federation calls for end to hunting in national parks

3 July 2013

Media release: National Parks Association of NSW

"Teachers Federation calls for end to hunting in national parks"

At its 2013 Annual Conference meeting Tuesday 2 July, the NSW Teachers Federation passed a motion to join the choir of voices calling for the NSW Government to repeal legislation that allows recreational hunting in national parks.

Delegates representing the Federation's 70,000+ public school and TAFE teachers objected for reasons including the reduction of visits to national parks for students and teachers on excursions.

"Teachers and students will lose opportunities for field trips in national parks where hunting will take place as the risks will be too high. Shots from rifles can reach kilometres from the boundaries of designated hunting zones," says Justin McKee, Campaign Coordinator for the National Parks Association of NSW.

"It's not right that the learning opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Public School and TAFE students becomes limited because of a deal between the Coalition and the NSW Shooters and Fishers Party.

"The National Parks Association of NSW applauds the NSW Teachers Federation for its response to concerns brought forward by its members and the community.

"Supporters of the 'No Hunting in National Parks' campaign began communicating with teachers and the NSW Minister for Education about agendas of the Shooters and Fishers Party after the Premier back-flipped on the hunting in national parks issue in May 2012.

"It's important the community keeps in mind that at the same time the shooters were asking the NSW Premier for hunting in national parks, they also asked for shooting to be introduced as an official sport in schools. Given previous broken promises by Barry O'Farrell (1), supporters have legitimate concerns about the prospects of this getting up:

"There will not be a decision to turn our national parks into hunting reserves (and) we're not going to replace literacy and numeracy in our schools with 'How to dismantle a gun in five seconds'."
Barry O'Farrell, April 2011

"In September 2012, the community was exposed to the first impact of Shooter agendas in schools when the Game Council delivered its ‘Be Safe, Be Seen' program at a Catholic School without the permission of parents (2). The local community was outraged," says Justin McKee

"The National Parks Association of NSW encourages everyone to write to the Minister for Education, Adrian Piccolli and request he represents the best interests of our students and teachers and not the Shooters and Fishers Party on matters of education."

Media contact:
Justin McKee, Campaign Coordinator, National Parks Association of NSW : 0404 824 020

01. April 2011: 'O'Farrell over the barrel as the shooters take aim'

02. September 2012: 'Good will hunting: Game Council water bottle inappropritae say parents'

The NSW Teachers Federation Motion:

The NSW Teachers Federation supports its affiliation to the National Parks Association of NSW. Accordingly, Federation calls on the NSW State Government to repeal the June 2012 amendements to the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002, which allows amateur shooting in national parks, nature reserves and State Conservation Areas.

This legislation which allows recreational shooting in national parks must be repealed because it:

➢ undermines public safety and trust in our parks system which in turn may reduce visits to national parks by bushwalkers, campers, students and teachers on excursions.
➢ poses unacceptable health and safety risks to rangers, scientists and Public Service Association Union members who work in national parks, nature reserves and State Conservation Areas.
➢ will be ineffective in reducing feral animal populations because recreational hunting is not based on sound scientific programs for feral animal control.

Fossil Fuel Divestment

Bill McKibben of 350.org writes an open letter to the four major banks to stop investing in coal related industries

State scraps Cobbora mine and will pay liabilities

This story reads about a mine called Cobbora but then goes onto a mine we have been trying to stop for 2 years and it seems there is a done deal being done with government behind the scenes and all of the evidence we have given makes not difference as it seems that the Company who is about to purchase the two power stations in Lithgow will only buy it if they get these two mines approved as they are open cut which means cheap coal but also means moving massive amounts of earth to get this cheap dirty coal, but it will also impact on two villages Cullen Bullen and Blackman Flats. These two mines are in very close proximity of the power station.

Outdoor operators fear ramifications of hunting program

24 June 2013

Media release: Mountain Sports and National Parks Association of NSW

"Outdoor operators fear ramifications of hunting program"

Blue Mountains based outdoor events business, Mountain Sports and NSW's largest bushwalking club, National Parks Association of NSW, fear the ramifications from the NSW Government's hunting program for outdoor lovers and businesses.

"The recent incident in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area where two hunters were found to be carrying rifles highlights a major threat for organisations and businesses that arrange outdoor activities for thousands of people annually. There are risks to people's personal safety and risks of rising insurance premiums," says Kevin Evans, CEO of the National Parks Association of NSW.

Mountain Sports is an outdoor event company that organises bush runs, marathons, mountain bike races and triathlons in national parks.

"Mountain Sports is extremely disturbed to know that two men were hunting within two kilometres of the course of our Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon on the weekend of 15th/16th June 2013. We had over 500 people participating in the event who ranged in age from 16 to 70 years," says Sean Greenhill, Director of Mountain Sports.

"Mountain Sports does not endorse hunting in any National Park. While the odds of a mishap might be perceived as small by some, the ramifications could be absolutely horrifying.

In October this year we will hold the annual Festival of Walking in the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon areas, which will send well over 1000 people into and around the region's National Parks. Mass events like the Festival have their own safety implications, which we professionally manage. But riflemen in Parks adds another level of unwelcome complication."

"The National Parks Association of NSW is responsible for thousands of people enjoying bushwalking trips annually through places like the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Dorrigo National Park and Nightcap Mountain that are internationally renowned for their unique beauty," said Mr Evans.

"With hunting incidents already occurring in areas where hunting is never to be permitted, and before the program has begun, the Government needs to read the writing on the wall and acknowledge safety isn't guaranteed and the program needs to be axed" concludes Kevin Evans.

Media contacts:
> Sean Greenhill, Director of Mountain Sports. M: 0409 047 714 www.mountainsports.com.au
> Justin McKee, Campaign Coordinator National Parks Association of NSW. M: 0404 824 020 www.npansw.org.au

Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon: http://www.mountainsports.com.au/glow-worm-trail-marathon/

Guide to the Garden's of National Stone and Greater Blue Mountains National Park is released.

Bush Explorers is a work in progress guide to ultimate bushwalking in the Greater Blue Mountains National Park and the Gardens of Stone National Park. It is a chronicle of challenges, discoveries, adventures, sweat, and research lead by Brian Fox, Michael Keats and Yuri Bolotin. It is also your key to enjoy seldom visited places, and through words and pictures, enjoy what is literally on Sydney’s back door step.

Visit http://www.bushexplorers.com.au/ to find out more!

Come and help Lithgow Environment Group plant 300 trees on the 7th, 14th & 28th April 2013.

6th June, 2013

Shadow Minister for the Environment Luke Foley : “Leaked document reveals: High risk of serious injury death due to hunting in National Parks"

The Planning and Assessment Commission have unanimously rejected the Coalpac Consolidation Project proposal

Some great news on the campaign to protect the Gardens of Stone!

The review panel of the Planning and Assessment Commission have unanimously rejected the Coalpac Consolidation Project proposal.

The open-cut mining proposal threatened to rip up and destroy a large part of the Ben Bullen State Forest, the western gateway to the iconic Gardens of Stone, NSW.

This outcome has been achieved thanks to the help of our wonderful supporters.

A big thank you from our campaigner Justin McKee and everyone else at the Blue Mountains Conservation Society for your help on this important campaign.

So what's next?

There are two more steps in the decision making process. Given the long list of reasons outlining why this proposal is a bad idea we are hoping it will be rejected throughout these stages also.

1. The Dept of Planning will now write up its Environmental Assessment for the Director General.

2. Following this a second panel of the Planning and Assessment Commission will make a final decision.

For now, enjoy the rewards of our collective work that has helped to protect the Gardens of Stone and the community of Cullen Bullen.

Find here a link to the ABC News report.

Here is the link to the PAC report. Scroll to the bottom of the page and look under "NSW Planning Assessment Commission Review Report"

We will be in touch in the new year to get collective support for the Ben Bullen State Forest to be declared a State Conservation Area to protect it from destructive proposals like this one.

Lithgow Environment Group Community Tree planting ~ 11th November 2012

“Say NO to hunting in National Parks” Rally

We say NO to hunting in National Parks!

Come to a rally organised by Blue Mountains Conservation Society and the National Parks Association.

CARRINGTON PLACE, KATOOMBA - Sunday 15th July at 11 am
(in front of Carrington Hotel)

The Premier of NSW has broken his promise to keep recreational shooters out of our National Parks!

The Bill that has been passed by parliament only specifically excludes 48 of our metropolitan national parks and other types of reserves, along with wilderness and world heritage areas. This leaves a huge number of our reserves at risk of being opened to hunting.

Speakers will include:
Lachlan Garland (President, Blue Mountains Conservation Society)
Vanessa Richardson (Ranger NPWS – PSA member)
Kevin Evans (NPA)
Leanne Taylor, General Manager (WIRES)
Darren Halloran (Senior Field Supervisor NPWS & a Regional AWU Delegate)

Join us to send the Premier and Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage a strong message that we will NOT stand for hunting in our National Parks.


"Will State Forests be sold off says Shadow Minister for Environment"

Shadow Minister for Environment Luke Foley says ‘Corporatising Forests NSW will remove it from ministerial oversight and only increase the likelihood of non compliance with critical environmental laws’

Wednesday, 8 May 2012


The O'Farrell Government's plan to corporatise Forests NSW will put our environment at risk and is designed to absolve the government of its responsibility to protect native plants and animals, the NSW Labor Opposition said today.

"The corporatisation of Forests NSW will put our environment further at risk," Shadow Environment Minister, Luke Foley said today.

"A State Owned Corporation, at arm's length from government, with an independent board, will be far less accountable than Forests NSW is today.

“The Land and Environment Court has recently issued a judgement critical of Forests NSW for multiple and ‘reckless’ breaches of environmental laws.

"Corporatising Forests NSW will remove it from ministerial oversight and only increase the likelihood of non compliance with critical environmental laws.

"I call on the O'Farrell Government to explain how they will enforce environmental regulations when they are cutting Forests NSW adrift as a State Owned Corporation?

"This move only strengthens the argument to back my Private Members Bill amending the National Parks and Wildlife Act to increase maximum penalties to $220,000, or two years imprisonment, or both for environmental offences committed in the course of carrying out forestry operations.

"The Environment Minister already thinks 'logging protects koalas', now the Primary Industries Minister is cutting Forests NSW loose with no regard for the protection of our native plants and animals.

"Forests NSW should be subject to more ministerial direction, not less."

"Pine Dale Proposes Hilltop mining in the Gardens of Stone."

"Pine Dale Proposes Hilltop mining in the Gardens of Stone."Hilltop mining in the Gardens of Stone - More public forest destruction by open-cut coal mining planned

Another 200 hectares of open-cut mining is proposed in the Ben Bullen State Forest 25 kilometres north of Lithgow, further endangering the Gardens of Stone Stage 2 reserve proposal. A proposal by Enhance Place would scalp hilltops, tear down pagodas and pollute Sydney’s water catchment. Enhance’s actions would create a waste rock heap the size of 400 football fields in the Ben Bullen State Forest.

Stop Sydney’s headwater catchment from becoming a moonscape! Act now.

Don’t let pagodas like this one be pulled apart...

Or the Coxs River headwaters be polluted like this...
– More destruction looms… for Gardens of Stone Reserve Proposal

Gardens of Stone biodiversity and geodiversity are now at even greater risk, as open-cut mining is set to replace underground coal mining in the Ben Bullen forest. Yet, only last November, Brad Hazzard, the Minister for Planning, promised the NSW Parliament that the Gardens of Stone would be protected.

The Ben Bullen and Wolgan State Forests are next in line for reservation, but now there’s yet another destructive open-cut coal mine proposed in this wonderful forest!

Just to the south of the huge Coalpac mine proposal, Enhance Place’s outrageous Pine Dale open-cut mine threatens to turn the Gardens of Stone into an environmental disaster zone. Any destruction of this outstanding natural area is intolerable. In high conservation areas, it’s time to stop destructive proposals, such as this mad polluting, hilltop open-cut mining scheme in a publicly-owned forest!

The forests shown above would be destroyed; the pagoda-studded hilltops and descending spurs that embrace them would be torn apart, only to be replaced by a giant pile of rock waste. What’s more a vast, poisonous subterranean lake contained within old mine workings and holds around 8,000 tonnes of metal salts in solution, could be discharged into Sydney’s drinking water supplies! The open-cut mining proposal adjoins Blackmans Flat, a settlement which is rapidly becoming the most ravaged, polluted and industrialised moonscape in NSW.

Stop it NOW! Please Take Action. Send an email or write to to Barry O’Farrell urging him to reject Enhance Place’s 200 hectare Pine Dale open-cut mining proposal in Sydney’s drinking water catchment, and to gazette instead the entire Ben Bullen/Wolgan State Forests as a Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area.

The Hon. Barry O’Farrell, Premier of NSW, email: premier@nsw.gov.au mail: Parliament House, Sydney, 2000

Join the campaign email: keith@colongwilderness.org.au or go towww.colongwilderness.org.au Authorised by the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, Level 2, 332 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000

"Lithgow City Council not objecting to the proposal Coalpac Consolidation Project at next Monday's Ordinary Meeting of Council."

For more information on Lithgow City Council Meeting 15th May Agenda Item No 4 http://www.council.lithgow.com/gen_businesspapers.html

"Coalpac Mine Cullen Bullen"

"Mining company to pay for environmental damage"

Mining company Centennial Coal has agreed to pay almost $1.5 million towards an environmental research program after its operation near Lithgow was found to have harmed local swamplands.

Here's the Department's media release.

"Delta Electricity admits to polluting the Coxs River and agrees to take action!"

After two years of litigation, the Blue Mountains Conservation Society has reached a settlement with Delta Electricity regarding water pollution in the Coxs River. Here's a joint statement.

In June 2009 the Society instigated legal action against Delta Electricity over alleged pollution in the upper Coxs River below Wallerawang Power Station.

This followed Streamwatch testing by BMCS/LEG members showing salinity, phosphate, turbidity and temperature at levels higher than natural background levels.

The water was then independently tested by Dr Ian Wright from UWS revealing aluminium, arsenic, copper, nickel, zinc, boron and fluoride in the water.

Here's the full story.

"Labor opposed to open-cut mining application in Cullen Bullen NSW"

In a statement in 19th October's Blue Mountains Gazette, the Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Mr Luke Foley states that the ALP is "opposed to open-cut mining in the Ben Bullen State Forest".

Here's a copy of the article as a pdf.

NSW Review of planning legislation

URGENT ALERT FOR NCC MEMBER GROUPS re the NSW Review of planning legislation

Please note the following dates for consultation for Western Sydney, Central & Eastern Sydney and the South Coast & South West.

For more information on the NSW Planning review you can visit planningreview.nsw.gov.au

You can also access a briefing note from the Environmental Defenders Office at www.edo.org.au/edonsw/site/papers.php

New population of the endangered Persoonia marginata found

In April LEG volunteers discovered 800 previously unrecorded Persoonia marginata (Clandulla Geebung) plants in Ben Bullen SF.

It is listed as Vulnerable under the TSC Act and EPBC Act.

The other main population is in Clandulla SF near Kandos about 50 km to the north.

There is nothing more exciting for a plant buff than to find a new population of an endangered species, but this find was quickly tainted because the plants were in the path of the fast approaching Cullen Valley Mine, and current NSW Threatened Species Legislation cannot protect them from open-cut mining.

OEH have been advised ... watch this space...

Here's the NPWS profile of Persoonia marginata.

A joint Blue Mountains Conservation Society and Lithgow Environment Group media release.

LEG proves that industry is polluting our waterways

The Sydney Catchment Audit 2010 confirms that the power stations and mines have contributed to high salinity and heavy metals in our waterways. read more here

Open Cut Mines - A Cut Too Far

The following letter was published in the Lithgow Mercury:

Have people heard? A major open cut mining project is being proposed to come to this area. The Coalpac Consolidation Project has submitted an application for the creation of a large open cut mine along the western edge of the Ben Bullen State Forest - on the road towards Mudgee. Pine Dale Mine's Yarraboldy extension is also proposed to be open cut.

So what? Well think about the Hunter Valley. This was once a very picturesque place but now increasingly looks more like an industrial wasteland. Is this what we would like to see happen in our region?

Underground mines create significant environmental effects at the surface - such as with surface cracks that swallow watercourses (and thus cut off the life lines of the environments that depend on them) and cliff collapses. However the impact on the surface of an open cut mine is total - impacts that would create scars for centuries.

We live in one of the natural heritage wonderlands of Australia - as the region's World Heritage listing acknowledges. Do we really want to turn this area into an industrial wasteland? Should open cut mining be made a 'line in the sand' in this region that new mines should not be allowed to cross?

I think we can do better - even with the mines. As the recently gazetted Mugii Murum-ban (Mt Airly- Genowlan Mtn) State Conservation Area attests, it is possible to achieve good conservation outcomes along with mining. The bord and pillar mining technique that Centennial Coal are using in this area causes significantly less surface impacts - and is a case of where mining and environmental benefits can co-exist. Unfortunately with open cut mines this is not feasible.

When mining has ceased in this region - as it will in the not too distant future - what do we want left? What do we want for our region - a mined wasteland or a landscape that offers the scope of finding alternate forms of employment for our community in a region of natural abundance?

If you are concerned then read further information about these proposals at the Dept. of Planning's website - and consider writing a submission to the Dept of Planning about such a development in this region:
Email: coalandgasstrategy@planning.nsw.gov.au or

Coal and Gas Strategy
Department of Planning
GPO Box 39 SYDNEY NSW 2001
Submissions need to be in by 15th April.

Otherwise voice your opinion to the next local State Member or the next NSW Planning Minister.

Richard Stiles

EDO Mining Workshop - Lithgow 17 March

The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is holding a workshop in Lithgow on Thursday 17th March at the Lithgow Information & Neighbourhood Centre (LINC), Cnr of Railway Pde/Padley St from 6:00 - 9:00pm (see this flyer).The workshop will provide an overview of some of the key laws governing mining in NSW, the planning and environmental law framework in which decisions are made, public participation in this process, and other useful information. It will also look at the new process for making local environmental plans (LEPs) and the contents of the standard instrument.

The Environmental Defender's Office Ltd, (EDO), is a not-for-profit community legal centre specialising in public interest environmental law. They help individuals and community groups who are working to protect the natural and built environment. You can go to their website to find out more about the workshop.

Whilst the flyer asks for RSVP's to go to the EDO, could RSVP's also be CC'd to the President of Lithgow Environment Group - Thomas Ebersol newnes@lisp.com.au for catering purposes. Light refreshments and we ask for a gold coin donation.

The Gardens Of Stone Visitors Map

Incorporating The Gardens Of Stone
Stage Two Reserve ProposalThis beautiful double sided map welcomes visitors to the broken rock country around Newnes Plateau and provides information about attractions, flora, fauna and cultural heritage.

The Visitors Map is in full colour, 60 by 85 cm in size, and covers the entire Gardens of Stone region at a 1:100,000 scale, making it ideal for planning your next trip to the area.

The map can be ordered online at the Blue Mountains Conservation Society's website.

New Aboriginal Hands Site Discovered

17 February 2011

Volunteers searching for rare plants discovered something even more extraordinary when they stumbled onto previously unrecorded Aboriginal Hand stencils in a cave over-hang near Lithgow.

This week LEG was informed that this site had not previously been recorded. LEG will now work with the DECCW to register this site and further investigate the surrounding area.

Here's the full story of the discovery.

Blue Green Algae Alert

17 February 2011Lithgow City Council has issued a water quality alert for Farmers Creek downstream of the Geordie Street Crossing.

Here's a link to the alert. [here's a pdf of the alert]

Council fined $130,000 for destroying endangered plants

Lithgow Council has been fined $105,000 plus $25,000 court costs in the Land and Environment Court for destroying 76 Grevillea obtusiflora ssp fecunda plants and 1 Phebalium bifidum on Port Macquarie Rd in the Capertee Valley. Both are Endangered Species. The full judgement is available on Lawlink. [here's a pdf of the decision]

This comes on top of Council's $68,750 fine in 2007 for causing pollution from its Oakey Park Water Treatment Plant, and $6000 fine in 2003 for breaches at the Lithgow Sewage Treatment Plant.

This ranks Lithgow City Council as one of the poorest environmental performers of all 154 NSW Councils. Only 5 other NSW Councils (Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Cabonne, and Midcoast) appear to have been prosecuted for environmental breaches in the last 10 years.

Only two Councils have been prosecuted on more than one occasion - Byron Shire Council (x2), and Lithgow City Council (x3).

Here are some photos of Grevillea obtusiflora ssp fecunda taken in the Capertee Valley: