Congratulations Australian Coal Alliance!

A huge new coal mine in Wyong has just been rejected. Congratulations to the activists in the Australian Coal Alliance, from Rivers SOS!

The ACA was one of our first support groups, when Rivers SOS was formed in 2005, and we have kept in touch with Alan Hayes, Ron Sokolowski and Mike Campbell ever since –  in fact we have picked their brains for advice and information. At that time they had emerged victorious over CSG issues, going under the name of Australian Gas Alliance, and now, re-named the Australian Coal Alliance, they’ve had another triumph with Tony Kelly’s decision today to refuse approval for Wallarah 2.

They have run a full-on, relentless and ultimately successful campaign against the Kores mine plan. Other groups can benefit from their experience and tactics, and to this end Alan Hayes has agreed to speak at the next Rivers SOS regional meeting at Toronto on 2 April. We’ll have this opportunity to celebrate something for a change, and find out how it was done.

Rivers SOS people have enjoyed playing a (very tiny) part in the ACA campaign – our “Rivers of Shame” DVD was screened at a big public meeting in Wyong Civic Centre three years ago, with Maurice Blackwood speaking on experiences in the Southern Coalfield,we have written supportive submissions and we spoke against the Kores mine plan at the recent Planning Assessment Commission hearing in Wyong.  Their local ALP MP David Harris helped Rivers SOS to organise one of our first regional meetings at Ourimbah, and he later led a Rivers SOS delegation to see Kristina Kenneally, then Minister for Planning –  part of David’s attempts to convince the ALP that the Kores mine had widespread oppostion. His seat hangs in the balance, but today’s news will help – he has been steadfast in his opposition to the mine.

All this makes the victory especially sweet. Solidarity feels good today.

-Caroline Graham, Rivers SOS

For more information about the mine rejection, read the articles from ABC News Online and the Central Coast Express Advocate.

Here is a press release from the Total Environment Centre:

Total Environment Centre (TEC) has applauded today?s decision by the NSW Government to reject the Wallarah 2 Coal Project in Wyong.

“For the first time an evidence based decision has been made to reject a longwall coal mine in a gazetted water supply catchment area,” said TEC Natural Areas Campaigner David Burgess.

?The NSW Government must be congratulated for paying attention to the potential for 53% of the Central Coast?s water supply area to be severely compromised, the potential damage to the ecological systems of Jilliby State Conservation Area, and the strong wishes of the local community and business community.?

Although an inquiry by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) did not specifically reject the proposal, its comprehensive recommendations have given the Planning Minister ample grounds to make the decision to do so. The PAC found that subsidence would have uncertain impacts on the water catchment area and that a ?purely responsive? approach to damage by the proponent was ?inadequate?.

?TEC welcomes the fact that both major parties have taken a precautionary approach to this unsustainable mine,? Mr Burgess said.

?It is vital that the next NSW government turns its attention to the ongoing impacts of longwall mining south of Sydney?s where numerous mines operate side by side with mining planned across a quarter of Sydney?s water supply area.?

A TEC inspection of Waratah Rivulet earlier this week revealed a critical watercourse where surface flow has still not returned to a riverbed cracked by longwalling nearly six years ago. The Waratah Rivulet feeds the Woronora Dam and provides the Sutherland Shire and Northern Illawarra with about 30% of their water supply.

?The Waratah Rivulet was a pristine river until it was undermined. It still looks appalling years afterwards. It is important that today?s decision leads policy away from the lasting damage longwall mining is doing to our water,? Mr Burgess concluded.

For further information contact: David Burgess (02) 43536619

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