Rivers SoS Alliance July 2010 Newsletter

Welcome to the first Rivers SOS newsletter! With its 40+ member groups spread across NSW, Rivers SOS is a geographically dispersed alliance. This is something I consider one of its great strengths, however it can often make the work of protecting our water systems feel like a somewhat isolating, tiring and largely thankless task.

Hopefully this newsletter will help bridge the distance and allow us to draw strength and hope from sharing the stories of the many, many people and communities out there that are fighting to save our precious waterways from the harmful impacts of extractive industries.

Useful Resources

Coal Seam Gas

  • Energy Justice Network http://www.energyjustice.net/naturalgas/cbm/
  • Hunter Valley Protection Alliance has some good information on their ‘About Coal Seam Methane Gas’ page. http://www.huntervalleyprotectionalliance.com/hghome.html

Tips on effective letter writing

  • Acknowledgements to The Change Agency for unearthing this great website.  Electronic Frontier’s letter writing guide http://www.efa.org.au/Campaigns/lobby.html

BHP 30 year plan, Southern Coalfield

We have been focussed on responding to and raising public awareness of BHP’s audacious, mammoth proposal for 30 years of mining in the Macarthur region, the Bulli Seam Project.

This proposal, covering 220 sq. kms, will be one of the largest underground coal mines in Australia, if approved. It is highly contentious because it threatens 47 streams, 226 upland swamps 17 threatened fauna species and 2 of Sydney’s drinking water catchments. Of most concern is that it proposes to undermine the headwaters of the Georges River which is encompassed by the Dharawal State Conservation Area.

BHP are making much of the fact that they are not proposing to undermine the major rivers (Nepean, Cataract and Georges) but they are proposing to undermine the tributaries and upland swamps which feed those rivers, thereby cutting off their lifeblood. This is especially the case with the Georges River.

Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) hearings were held in February and the PAC report is now long overdue. We were told that this the biggest coal mining proposal to come before the PAC and the Panel have had a hard time coming to grips with all the issues. Despite the mammoth size of the Environmental Assessment, the public were still only given 6 weeks to respond!
Submissions by key Government agencies, DECCW, SCA and NOW were quite damning of the proposal. Even the Department of Industry & Investment NSW (formerly DPI) did not support Stage 4 of the massive emplacement area (coal wash dump) which is filling up a pristine creek valley and on which the proposal depends for the disposal of reject material. Due to the presence of threatened species the proposal has been referred the the Federal Government for assessment under the EPBC Act. This will require BHP to produce an Environmental Impact Statement which will have to go on exhibition for another round of submissions. This should hold things up for a good long while (Yay!!)

We’ve had good coverage of the issue in our local papers as well as the Herald and also most recently, an excellent segment on Stateline, http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2010/05/ 14/2900087.htm

We’ve been to see Planning Minister Kelly and are setting up a meeting with the new Minister for Mineral resources, Paul McLeay. We’ve had 2 public meetings, one of which was attended by the Shadow Environment Minister, Catherine Cusack. We also have a petition which is down-loadable from the website and have had a sausage sizzle at Woolworths in Camden as well as a car boot sale in Appin. Both of these activities were fundraisers as well as signaturegathering opportunities.

Julie Sheppard, National Parks Association – Macarthur Branch


Blue Mountains Conservation Society
The Blue Mountains Conservation Society has been running a successful Drink Tapwater Campaign for several years in conjunction with the School Environmental Network. Drink Tapwater labels that can be affixed to a water bottle have been distributed to most schools within the Blue Mountains. Encouraged by this success we are moving on to distributing refillable water bottles with the logo pre-printed on them and preliminary indications are that this idea is also going to be a winner.

Macarthur Bushwalkers
2 years ago the Macarthur Bushwalkers started photographing the streams and rivers in the upper Georges River catchment, southwest of Sydney. Originally an effort to record the area for future generations before it bcame further degraded, the project evolved into an active campaign to protect the upper Georges catchment as the group uncovered extensive damage from longwall mining. Macarthur Bushwalkers have since been busy working with the Environmental Defenders Office and Allan Carriage, a Wadi Wadi traditional owner to document longwall related damage to significant Indigenous sites and pressure state politicians.

Contact: Ken Hall kenhall46@bigpond.com
Further information & photographs: http://www.aboriginal-land-rights.com/
http://www.georges-river-macarthur.com/ http://www.bushwalking-cycling.com/

Mudgee District Environment Group
Moolarben Coal Operations (MCO is owned by Yancoal Pty Ltd) was in the Land and Environment Court (9 July 2010) for a series of pollution events of the Goulburn River, Upper Hunter Valley (nr Mudgee). The Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW) provided evidence that extensive clearing and earthworks on the site of the Moolarben coal project did not have adequate sediment and erosion controls as required under MCO Conditions of Approval. The official opening of Moolarben Coal Operations is on 2 August 2010. To be opened by none other than the Minister for Planning – Hon. Tony Kelly MLA. Meanwhile the MCO Stage 2 is currently under assessment by The Department of Planning.

Contact Us
Do you have any newsletter contributions? You can email updates for the next quarterly newsletter to amrohlfs@gmail.com
For other enquiries about Rivers SOS please email riverssos@riverssos.com or visit www.riverssos.com

1st-5th December – Climate Camp
Climate Camp 2010 will be 5 days of inspiring workshops and direct action at Bayswater Power Station in the Hunter Valley of NSW. Climate change is the biggest threat to our future, and coal is the biggest cause of climate change, yet right now across the country there are proposals for 12 new coal or gas fired power stations. If approved, the ‘dirty dozen’ would increase Australia’s total emissions by 7% and NSW’s emissions by up to 15%. The camp will be peaceful, safe, fun and a great way to meet other campaigners and get inspired.

For more information, or to get involved with organising, contact info@climatecamp.org.au

By joining Rivers SOS you endorse our campaign aim which is to protect the integrity of river
systems and water sources against the impacts of mining. Membership costs are:

  • Group $20
  • Individual $10
  • Concession $5

Please email riverssos@riverssos.com for a membership form.

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