Friday 30 August 2013

Recent articles about the NSW Government's proposed amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy in the Mudgee Guardian 

Click on these links to read two recent articles about this legislation in the Guardian:

Friday 23 August 2013

RSWUA takes the fight for a fairer planning system to NSW Parliament House 

This Tuesday, Running Stream Water Users Association President Nell Schofield and Kate Smolski from the Nature Conservation Council of NSW met with Member for Bathurst Paul Toole to outline concerns about the NSW Government’s draft planning bill.
“People in the Ilford-Running Stream area strongly oppose the draft planning bill as it is currently formulated because it will deny landowners a real say in the way our local area develops,” Schofield said.
Read the report on meeting in the Lithgow Mercury

Wednesday 21 August 2013

On this week's ABC Television Catalyst Science Program:  'Coal Dust'.

Coal mining releases particles into the air that may cause respiratory diseases for residents living near the mines. For coal communities around the world, this is a major public health issue. Zeroing in on Australia, which exports more coal than any other nation, Mark Horstman explores the controversial issue of how much airborne particulate pollution is reaching residents in our largest coal community, Newcastle.
This story may be similar to what our own local Doctor Richard Stiles is talking about on the proposed Coalpac Open Cut Mine surrounding the Village of Cullen Bullen here:
This story may also be similar to what NSW Health is talking about on the proposed Coalpac Open Cut Mine surrounding the Village of Cullen Bullen here:
Check it out this Thursday night 8PM ON ABC 1
22 August 2013.

Friday 9 August 2013

RSWUA submission to the Draft SEPP


cc: Barry O’;
Brad Hazzard,                                                                  

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


The Running Stream Water Users Association (RSWUA) is a community-based organisation with over 100 members dedicated to the preservation of the water resource of the Ilford/Running Stream area in Central NSW. RSWUA vehemently opposes the proposed changes to the above SEPP.

The current SEPP requires other land uses, impacts on water, biodiversity and climate to be considered by the consent authority before determining an application for mining, petroleum production or extractive industry development. The proposed changes to the SEPP would require the consent authority to make the significance of the resource the consent authority’s principal consideration.

This is totally unacceptable. In particular, RSWUA is appalled that the draft policy reverses the intention of the Aquifer Interference Policy. Water is our most precious resource on this, the driest inhabited continent, and it is therefore totally unacceptable for state significant development to be exempt from the minimal impact standards in the Aquifer Interference Policy. The policy must be made binding for all development, including mining and coal seam gas.

There must be better protection for our drinking water catchments from physical damage and water pollution by prohibiting any mining from occurring in water catchment areas.

In addition, RSWUA is strongly opposed to ‘one way’ standards that prevent consent authorities from properly assessing environmental risks associated with individual mining proposals, including impacts on sensitive rural industries and vulnerable populations (including young children and the elderly).

Particulate matter (PM) that is generated from coal mining can cause serious health impacts including asthma, respiratory and cardiac disease, damage lungs and increase the risk of premature death. Enforceable pollution controls and standards that truly protect communities must be developed.

RSWUA also finds it unacceptable to merely ‘consider’ the advice of the Office of Environment and Heritage on biodiversity impacts.  The SEPP should reflect the government’s recently announced commitment to a ‘net positive’ standard for biodiversity impacts from state significant development.

Finally, the recent ICAC hearings have well and truly exposed the dangers of giving Ministers broad discretion when assessing mining projects. The Minister should not be given this kind of power. This ill-conceived proposal puts the narrow interests of the mining companies above the interests of ordinary people and existing rural industries.

RSWUA urges you to abandon this proposal as a matter of urgency and re-draft the SEPP to include binding environmental protection standards for air, water, noise and vibration to provide real protection for local communities and the environment.

I welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss this matter further.

Yours sincerely,

Nell Schofield

Thursday 8 August 2013

Good News about the Drip!

The spectacular Drip and Corner Gorge near Mudgee have been registered by the NSW National Trust as a landscape with heritage significance.

This is great news for the many people who have been fighting for this special sacred site to be protected. Please add a comment to this article calling for the O'Farrell Government to protect The Drip in Goulburn River National Park.

But there is still work to be done and funds are needed. The Mudgee District Environment Group will be holding a fundraiser for The Drip on August Friday 30th at the Mudgee Bowling Club with entertainment by Wollar legend Mike Fitch. Call 0427 920887 for tickets.

We need to keep the pressure up on the NSW Government, especially in the wake of the ICAC findings.

 Follow this link to vote in Mudgee Guardian poll against Mt Penny Mine since ICAC findings released:

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Minutes of Inglenook CCC meeting held 23 July 2013

Minutes of Inglenook Exploration Project Community Consultative Committee Meeting
Date and time: Tuesday 23/07/2013, 9:30am
The text in blue italic are my own additional comments to the official minutes
Location: Inglenook Project Office, "Spring Park", Running Stream
Present: Margaret MacDonald-Hill (MMH)Chair, Julie Moloney (JM)Office of Resources & Energy, Mineral Resources, Esme Martens (EM)Inglenook Community Representative, Neva Lilley (NL)Inglenook Community Representative, Jolieske Lips (JL)Inglenook Community Representative, and from Centennial Coal: Alex Brown (AB), Thomas Dubos (TD), Greg Banning (GB) ,Malcolm Ives (MI)
Apologies Cr Ray Thompson Lithgow City Council, Peter Shelley Mid-Western Regional Council, Mitchell Clapham Inglenook Community Representative

Welcome and Introduction
The Chair opened the formal meeting at 9:40am and thanked all attendees for their participation and introduced Malcolm Ives, Group Geologists Manager.

Confirmation of previous minutes
JL noted that the previous minutes omitted JL’s apology and that drill muds were discussed in the last meeting and were not recorded within the minutes. Include JL apology. Insert after JL questions in General Business; AR advised use of additional drill muds. Minutes were confirmed as amended by EM and seconded by NL.
Business arising

EM noted she received payment from Centennial for the Water Census.
JL asked for MSDS sheet to be provided for chemical used when trying to free the stuck drill rods (Superfoam).
Other matters covered in reports.

Presentation handouts provided to CCC. A copy of the presentation will be posted on the Centennial Website in due course. It includes some good maps. 
If you dont have internet you can contact Centennial anytime to request a written copy be posted, and you can always approach Centennial with questions: 6358 8340.
GB presented an update on regional conditions within the coal industry. JM noted that the Hunter Valley lost 200 coal industry jobs within the last twelve months. EM asked if Charbon is closing in 2014. MMH advised she believed that was the case. GB noted that discussions are being held internally to look at relocating crews to Airly.
MI presented an update on Exploration. MI commented that Centennial had no fly over after the 14th August 2011 for the Aeromagnetic Survey. EM asked whether we now have a more accurate map of the basalt cap. MI explained the extent of the basalt cap and presented a plan of the survey findings. JL asked if the flyover took place over the Xstrata lease. MI responded that yes it did but no data was collected. NL commented that the ground changes on top of Mount Vincent. In her paddock basalt soils change to sandy soils occasionally.
MI provided an update on the exploration rig in the Western Coalfields. There is an intention to come back and drill at Inglenook after the current drilling at Airly is completed.probably in August The rig will then move to Springvale after Inglenook and could possibly return to Inglenook in October when they hope to drill on Razorback. They still have money allocated for more drilling this year if they can get access negotiated.
MI provided a presentation on the Exploration Strategy and provided an explanation of the Cherry Tree Hill Outlier and thickness of the coal measures. MI commented that Centennial would like to approach landholders to verify the location of old exploration holes. This verification could lead to the need not to drill as many holes. NL asked if the “Winery” had good coal. TD commented that coal was encountered but could not provide exact quality details.Originally they proposed a total of 72 holes to complete the 1km grid of boreholes (drilling stages 1-3). The 1km grid is required to supply enough info for a project feasibility study. 7 of the original 72 holes have been deleted because of proximity to basalt outcrop or an historical hole. They still have about 50 holes to go before they can do the feasibility study and then they may still need to do more drilling. When negotiating access to a property Centennial prefer to include all the holes they plan for that property.
They dont have enough info at the moment to define the good areas. The 15 holes they have done so far are all fairly close. The seam thickness and quality is quite variable across the Inglenook area. generally the seams are thinner than that found at Airly and Charbon. It will depend on the geology as to how close they will need to drill, so the number of holes needed could still increase.
The closer spaced holes (1km offset=stage 4 and 0.5km grid=stage 5) needed for final mine plan would only take place in the good areas.
The drilling program will continue but at a slower rate because of the economic slowdown (ie lower coal prices). In 2014 the drill rig will be shared with Centennial's other western operations.
They hope to do another 16 holes in 2014, but that depends on the upper echelons of the company approving the proposed drilling program which should be some time in Oct.
MI provided an explanation of how drill rods become stuck.
TD presented a plan showing the Xstrata Lease boundary relative to the Inglenook Lease boundaries. JL asked if Centennial would purchase the Xstrata lease AL12. AB noted that it could be possible if the lease was for sale. JM commented that you can have multiple exploration licences over the same area and that different groups of minerals exist. Coal is a Group 9 mineral.
AB presented an update on Community and that Access Agreements for Environmental Monitoring are ongoing. Surface water and groundwater monitoring is being undertaken quarterly. TD presented a plan of the Surface Water and Groundwater Monitoring Locations. JL asked whether or not dust monitoring is taking place. AB noted that not at this stage in the exploration. JM noted that the Department of Planning and Infrastructure require 12 months of baseline data. GB noted Centennial aim to have two years’ worth of data.
TD presented a summary of incidents since the last CCC meeting. The only incident was a dog bite incident. The internal incident investigation is ongoing.
Correspondence MMH noted that letter containing the Centennial Inglenook Newsletter project update was received on 13th June and that she understood it had been distributed within the local area.

General Business
AB asked whether any questions were raised at the previous RSWUA meeting which Centennial could assist with answering.
JL commented that the arbitration process at Bylong was discussed and varied to how Centennial completed arbitration at Inglenook. She queried information given by a resident regarding flora surveys and why Centennial did not provide what was involved in writing to the landholder when asked. AB undertook to investigate.
EM asked whether Access Agreements will include holes for stage 3 drilling. MI noted that Centennial will work to include the total number of sites required to satisfy the 1km grid spacing but each property is different and the number of holes could increase or decrease. JM noted that the department’s view is to include up to number of holes required on a property.
Meeting closed at 11:59am.

Next meeting scheduled for Tuesday 12 November 2013 at Spring Park at 9.30am.
Action Items
The Chair confirmed the actions for the next scheduled meeting are:
1. Provide a copy of the MSDS sheet for the drilling additive Superfoam.
2. Response to query in regards to environmental baseline monitoring baseline survey request to be put in writing.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Make a submission to the the NSW government on proposed amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy

Barry O'Farrell and the NSW Government are set to weaken controls on coal mining even further. With proposed changes to the SEPP it will be almost impossible for any authority to reject a major coal mine application. 

Mining Development Approvals are already far too easy for companies to obtain, but the 'primary purpose' of this legislative amendment is to to 'promote the development of significant mineral resources' and 'ensure that where mineral resources are demonstrated to be significant to the State, they are given greater consideration in the assessment of DAs'. In other words, to privilege the development of mining over any other considerations, such as impacts on water, the environment, agricultural land, health and communities.

Please take a few moments to read the proposed amendments and make a submission to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure before 12 August 2013. It's really important that your voice is heard.

You will find the amendments and a submission form here:

Cancel Corrupt Coal Licences including Inglenook

Yesterday's ICAC findings have made it clear that former mining Minister Ian McDonald granted exploration licences in a corrupt manner. Inglenook, which covers the Running Stream area, is one of 11 licences approved at the same time as those in the Bylong Valley and it must now be cancelled.

Yet Barry O'Farrell plans to remove the rights of individuals and community groups to oppose mining in NSW, a move that would pave the way for more destructive extractive industries and corrupt behaviour.

Please take a moment to send a message to the Premier and urge him to cancel the licence granted to Centennial Coal over our invaluable water resource.