Sunday 22 March 2015

NSW Planning to Move the Coal-Posts

(Material below courtesy of The Australia Institute.)

The NSW Planning Department is secretly working with the mining industry to change economic assessment guidelines which would make it easier for unviable mines to get approval.

Centennial Coal referred to the new guidelines in a response to The Australia Institute’s submission on the company’s Airly Mine proposal in the Capertee Valley, north of Lithgow. The Australia Institute's submission pointed out that the cost benefit analysis of the Airly project didn’t actually discuss any of the costs or the main benefit – revenue – of the mine.

Existing NSW guidelines state that economic assessment should look at 'all major costs and benefits to whoever they accrue', before then looking at what costs and benefits are relevant to the NSW community. It is important for decision makers to have an understanding of the total costs and revenues of a project, because if a project isn’t financially viable, it won’t provide jobs and royalties to the state.
Centennial should know this, because just months after consultants to the company’s Angus Place mine expansion estimated that project had a total economic benefit of $770 million, Angus Place was closed because it wasn’t making any money.

Despite their estimates on Angus Place being wrong by at least $770 million, Centennial’s consultants defended their approach by saying: 'The fact that the Department of Planning and Environment is now developing [new] guidelines … demonstrates that different approaches are relevant'.

So sure, Centennial’s assessments don’t comply with existing guidelines (a fact confirmed by Planning’s own review). And sure, assessment done the way Centennial does it means a mine that’s going broke can claim hundreds of millions in benefits. But that doesn’t matter, because Planning is making new guidelines that make this all OK.

The Australia Institute spoke to Planning about these new guidelines. They are being drafted in collaboration with mining companies, their consultants and the Minerals Council to make sure they are 'fit for purpose'. Once the new NSW government has approved them, then they will go on display for public comment. We can’t wait.

Friday 13 March 2015

Marie Bashir says 'Protect our farmland from mining'!

"The sale of our farm land, and the destruction of our farm land, must stop," Professor the Hon. Dame Marie Bashir, former Governor of NSW.

We are less than three weeks from the state election and the destructive impact of coal mining is firmly on the agenda.

The widely respected and much-loved former Governor of NSW, Professor the Hon. Dame Marie Bashir was on the cover of the Sydney Morning Herald on March 10, making an impassioned plea that our farmland be protected from coal mining. 

We know Premier Mike Baird and his colleagues in the NSW Government listen when Dame Marie speaks, so the significance of this bold call cannot be overstated. Take a look:

Marie Bashir

You might like to watch Dame Marie's full speech (it's inspirational!), you can check it out here.

This comes just a fortnight after leaked reports revealed that mining companies have prepared plans for as many as 16 new or expanded coal mines in the NSW Upper Hunter Valley. These are plans that our government knew about but kept secret from the community.

Mining companies often talk about rehabilitating land once mining is done but now the devastating truth has been revealed: mining in the Hunter Valley could leave a legacy of more than 10,000 hectares of land consumed as 'final voids' (giant holes) and could cost $15 billion to clean up!

Further north, the NSW government gave the green light to Chinese state-owned mining company Shenhua to put in a massive new open-cut coal mine on the Liverpool Plains. But local farmers are fighting back.

Never before have we seen open-cut coal mining on such a scale. The mines are getting bigger than ever before and closer to our homes, farmland, forests and water catchments. But right around the state communities are standing up to say enough is enough.

Our Land, Our Water, Our Future is running a campaign to tell MPs how the community is feeling about goal and gas mining. You can click here to find out about it

(Thanks to Our Land, Our Water, Our Future for this content.)

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Clean air, clean water, and land to grow clean, healthy food: These things are priceless

Have a look at this wonderful new video from Our Land, Our Water, Our Future. It's about everyday people who are juggling the everyday commitments of work and family with the added challenge of standing up to protect our land and water, because they know how much is at stake.

People in communities across the state are doing what they can, when they can. Take Rosemary. Rosemary is a farmer from the Liverpool Plains where she produces crops including mung beans, faba beans, sorghum, wheat, and grazes Black Angus and Wagyu cattle. She's also an inspirational leader in her region's fight against coal and gas.

"We should be just producing food,” she says, "But now we're spending our lives fighting for our existence."

Rosemary is one of the women in the new video, made to showcase some of the stories of people in our communities who are standing up to demand protections for our farms, forests, water and communities.

Please watch the video and share it with your friends.