Category Archives: Agriculture

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OAKEY GROUP MOVES TO CHALLENGE ACLAND STAGE 3 IN COURT

A local community group, Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA), has launched legal action against the Acland Stage 3 coal expansion on the Darling Downs in Queensland.

The group lodged a formal submission to the project and last week made a final decision to pursue an objection to the damaging New Hope Coal expansion in the Queensland Land Court.

The group is comprised of farmers and residents from the local area and surrounds who will be affected by the proposed mine expansion. Frank and Lynn Ashman are beef cattle stud owners at Brymaroo, on the Downs and Mr Ashman is OCAA president.

“The Acland Stage 3 coal expansion represents a serious threat to our farms, our livelihoods and the health of our local community,” Mr Ashman said.

“We have taken the very difficult step of objecting to the project in the Land Court because of the severe and unacceptable impacts it will have on the environment and our community.

“Our case will be that the expansion should not proceed because of the impacts it will have on many aspects including groundwater resources, important farming land and the health of local families.

“The mine will destroy 1,300 hectares of Strategic Cropping Land located on the fertile soils of our nationally significant food-bowl on the Darling Downs.

It will cause groundwater aquifers to drop by up to 47 metres in some locations and will leave final holes or ‘voids’ that will cover more than 450 hectares.

“The expansion will worsen air quality for people and farmers surrounding the mine, most of whom are already living with degraded air quality from the current mine.

“We will also contend in court that the costs of this expansion to Queensland far outweigh any public benefits, particularly as mine proponent has estimated that it pays 77 per cent of royalties to itself and only seven per cent to the State Government.”

OCAA will be represented in the Land Court by lawyers from community legal centre, Environmental Defenders Office (Qld).

“Today we’re also calling on people all across Australia to support our local community because we can’t do this alone,” Mr Ashman said.

“We’re asking for our supporters to donate to the Acland fighting fund that has been launched today by Lock the Gate and will be used to support the campaign against this dangerous coal mine.”

People can donate to the fighting fund, launched by Lock the Gate Alliance, for the continued campaign against the Acland Stage 3 coal expansion at: www.lockthegate.org.au/acland_donate

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection must refer objections to the Land Court by the end of this week then the case is expected to begin within about a month.

 

WORST DROUGHT ON RECORD BUT NEW HOPE WANTS TO USE 9 BILLION LITRES OF WATER PER ANNUM

From High Country Herald, 4th August 2015.

The text reads:

“Queensland is in the grip of the worst drought on record with more than 80% of the state drought declared.

After three failed wet seasons, Queensland now has more areas affected by drought than any other state or territory.

32 entire local government areas and three part local governments areas (LGA’s) are currently drought declared, with another 66 Individually Droughted Property Declarations in an additional 6 LGA’s.

The harsh impacts of drought place communities, rural businesses, families, livestock, crops and the environment under extreme pressure”. HCH 4.8.15

So this begs a simple question from OCAA and many Australians, directed at the Queensland and Federal Government- why should a single coal company (which admits contributes only 7% of coal royalties from coal sales to the Crown), be allowed to utilise 9 billion litres of water per annum for the purpose of washing its filthy coal, and spraying its dusty roads?

 We don’t care where the water comes from, or how much New Hope claim they ‘recycle’: many more  farms will close over the life of this mine. This is a sheer travesty in a world with unprecedented need for clean water and food.

 

UNITED WE STAND!

 

A Greenwood Hill barley crop. This strategic cropping land is threatened by Stage 3.

A Greenwood Hill barley crop. This strategic cropping land is threatened by Stage 3.

A major decision is looming for residents of the Darling Downs, particularly those living and operating farms in the Acland district. The Queensland Department of Environment & Heritage Protection and  Department of Natural Resources & Mines have received Submissions and Objections from concerned citizens who oppose the Stage 3 New Hope Group open cut coal mine at Acland.

 Two local groups have recently joined forces in their opposition to this controversial project. Oakey Coal Action Alliance Inc. a long term, respected incorporated community group have been instrumental in the monitoring of fine airborne coal particulates, and pressuring the proponent to relocate coal loading facilities from Jondaryan. Another group,Water at Risk, are local dairy and pig farmers, graziers and croppers who are very concerned as to underground water being depleted and their livelihoods jeopardised if Stage 3 proceeds. 

 Both groups have similar concerns with the proposed expansion which encompass groundwater deprivation, destruction of strategic cropping land, contamination of prime agricultural land, pollution of creeks and streams, airborne coal contaminants and respiratory health risks, noise and light pollution, social disruption, and animal habitat destruction.

Members of both groups have raised concerns about management plans within the Additional Information to the Environmental Impact Statement (AEIS) and New Hope’s supposed ‘make good’ provisions.

OCAA and WAR say the devil is in the detail of the AEIS and the Coordinator General report. 1,361 Ha of Strategic Cropping Land (SCL) will be destroyed, high quality land capable of producing wheat, barley, oats, corn, sorghum, millet and other crops for hundreds of years to come.

The AEIS also states that water will be taken from surrounding bores at a rate of 3.5 Mega litres per day,  and operational water will be consumed at 24 Ml per day.  This is 8.9 billion litres per year or 36,000 Olympic sized swimming pools just to suppress dust and wash coal.

198 private bores within a distance of 21 Km from the mine are expected  to be affected by drawdown, some aquifers dropping by 47 meters .

Three residual lakes (left over mine pits) will continue to fill from aquifers to an equilibrium level some 200-300 years hence!

 

Acland Stage 3 has still more hurdles to cross before any Mining Lease is decided, and this week moves were made by the Labour Party and Katter Australia Party to restore community rights to oppose such projects in the Land Court, rights which were stripped away by the LNP in 2014.

 

The combined landholder groups will fly under the banner of OCAA. They know many Australians are adamantly opposed to this mine and others threatening our food producing land, and want to offer help with any future actions. This website www.ocaa.com.au will provide more information. Support can be via joining the group, offering donations, or helping to spread the word about OCAA’s future campaigns. Please join the group and support OCAA upcoming objections in the land Court, where the AEIS and other information will be independently scrutinised.

Remember our groups are not anti-development or anti-jobs- far from it! We are fighting simply for the right to continue farming on the inner Darling Downs. Farming is sustainable and creates significant jobs, and cash-flow for local businesses. Proper independent scrutiny of destructive projects, like Acland Stage 3, is the civil right of rural communities like ours.