Wybong Action Group

wag-bannerThe fight to save Anvil Hill near Wybong, NSW, from being mined by Centennial Coal involved thousands of people from near and far. We wanted to draw a line in the sand here at this scenically biodiverse ‘Ark of the Hunter’ and say ‘No new coal’.

We lost to King Coal and the NSW Planning Minister.

At the time, Muswellbrook and Denman mainly supported the Anvil Hill mine; perhaps they believed what the coal companies promised??!!!

Sold to Xstrata, who renamed it Xstrata Mangoola, and are now proceeding to ‘develop’ the site, it will destroy 100 square kilometres of the Wybong Valley. It has already got rid of 300 of the 500 residents.

Wybong, like its larger neighbour, Denman, is an area of farms large and small, vineyards and horse studs. Now the coal companies, showing their usual greediness, want three new mines in this area.

Xstrata Ridgeland is next to Mangoola: that should clear out the remaining Wybong community. And now there are the Spur and Yarrawa,  threatening closer to Denman.

Coal companies are good at ‘divide and conquer’. I hope this time the landowners stick together — as at Caroona — and say NO to the transformation of the Upper Hunter Valley into continuous mega dust pits and dust mountains.

The Wybong Action Group is certainly trying to make that ‘NO’ be loud and strong. They have my support and their website will now be a permanent link on mine.

Join me at Climate Camp

camp-posterFor three days in October, from Friday 9th—Sunday 11th, I’ll be camping in my little tent alongside hundreds of others at Climate Camp ’09 . 

Set up among the trees near Australia’s oldest coal mine on Dharawal land in in Helensburgh, NSW (40 minutes south of Sydney),  Climate Camp ’09 will be an entirely sustainable solar-powered event.

Climate Camp is for everyone — because when it comes to water, climate and jobs, actions speak louder than words. And getting a strong message to the government grows more urgent every day. By joining us, show them you demand a different future than the dark one offered by coal and its apparently entrenched supporters. 
This is a family event — come for the three days or come for an afternoon — for great workshops, music, art, food and positive climate action. Most importantly, if you can, please come along to swell the numbers at the powerful and peaceful community action on Sunday October 11th. 

At Climate Camp ’08 in Newcastle, our largest coal exporting port, around 1000 people of all ages joined in an uplifting community walk to halt the coal loader.

Find out what it’s all about on the Climate Camp ’09 website.

I hope you’ll join me at Climate Camp ’09 – with your kids and parents, neighbours and friends – we’re all in this predicament together and we all want a better future.  Let’s make it happen!

Paradise under threat

Recently I attended a Rivers SOS conference at Booral near Gloucester. Rivers SOS is an alliance of 40 groups from all over NSW committed to protecting the integrity of river systems and water sources against the impacts of mining.

The weekend was held at Country River Camp, an informal and natural grassy camping area right by the Karuah River. Keith and Margaret Wynne, who own Country River Camp, love their river and are strong supporters of those who fight to protect it.

On Sunday we were taken on a tour of this beautiful, well-watered area, under grave threat from the expansion of the two coalmines in the district. It’s hard to get a peek at the so-called ’boutique minery’ of Duralie mine, tucked away from the main roads as it is. But they’re expanding way beyond boutique, and if they get their way it will be all too visible.
rivers-1 Many farms, like the one below, have already been bought up for hard-to-resist prices; across other paddocks we could see dozens of test drill pipes under their white caps.
rivers-2 This region is watered by pristine rivers and creeks that rise in the nearby World Heritage sub-alpine Gloucester and Barrington Tops. And yet the mine wants to discharge its toxic waste water into these streams.

They call it ‘irrigating’, which means indirect discharge, as the waste will just take a bit more time to reach the rivers as it enters the many gullies and watercourses of the river flats and slopes they want to use for this (below).
rivers-3These gullies run into Mammy Johnsons River (below), which flows to the Karuah River and thence to the tourist and marine environment mecca of Port Stephens.

If beauty like this doesn’t matter, with water becoming such a precious commodity, it has to be an obscenity to consider mining this area which is also blessed with fertile soils.

We can’t drink or eat coal.

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Mining madness

Our governments appear to be blind, mad or bad when it comes to coal. This is just one instance.

Firstly there is the madness of having approved, in 2007, a mega coal mine that in Stage One will produce 127 million tonnes of coal over 15 yrs for the world to burn to make more CO2 — just what we need; now they are contemplating approving Stage Two, to produce 17 million tonnes of new coal per year for 24 years — even better if we don’t want the global warming to slow down.

This Moolarben mega-mine, owned by  Felix Resources, will comprise three opencut mines and a longwall underground mine.

The second evidence of madness ( or whatever) is where the mine is to be located:  in close proximity to the Goulburn River & The Drip Gorge area that abuts the Goulburn River National Park.

The three opencut mines will trash the picturesque Moolarben valley, rich in bird life and biodiversity, will displace many farming families in this area and come within 2 kilometres of the village of Ulan and local primary school. I’m sure they will welcome the health benefits from all the heavy metal laden fine dust particulates and the 24-hour noise, lights and stress.
drip-1The Drip’  in Goulburn River National Park under threat from mining; get the scale of its grandeur from the two figures at its base.

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Defeating the dinosaurs

coal-dinosaurIn the months before the international climate conference in Copenhagen the dinosaurs of the coal industry are spending up big on lobbying to keep things the way they like them and helping the usual crew of Parliamentary dinosaurs to block the creation of hundreds of thousands of badly needed new clean energy jobs.

Now a coalition of organisations including World Wildlife Fund Australia, the Climate Institute, the ACTU, the Australian Council of Social Service and the Australian Conservation Foundation, have launched a counter-camapign.

You can add your voice to it by visiting the WWF’s Road to Copenhagen website and sending a message to your local MP.

Coal port takeover

Although I’d only been home for a few days, last Saturday I drove to Newcastle to help take over the harbour entrance to this major coal exporting port.

It’s the fourth year that the dynamic climate change action group, Rising Tide, have organised the event at Horseshoe Beach. This is a peaceful, family-oriented way to protest that the continuing export of our coal for the world to burn in power stations is fuelling global warming and thus climate chaos.

That’s me in the red hat, centre left, camera in hand.

This lone polar bear –  who sat there all day – said it all. The police boat kept a close eye on him: it’s the silent types you have to watch.

Kayaks were supplied, but many people brought their own water transport, from surfboards, sailboats and rubber dinghies to inner tubes and floaties. Some had made rafts of limited navigation and dubious flotation abilities, but great ingenuity and sense of fun.

I didn’t do much paddling about, being a bit of a wuss waterwise, opting to help out in the kitchen tent instead.

This year, the port authorities didn’t wait for the people occupying the port for the day to have the chance to actually stop any coal ships leaving the port. They cancelled them anyway.

This made the protest a success before it started and also kept the tension and the numbers of police down from previous years.

See Rising Tide’s website for further details on the day and their ongoing great work. People power does work: you might like to get involved.