Monthly Archives: November 2015

TRANSITIONING FROM A COAL MINING FUTURE?? YES WE CAN!

A study of the potential for regional communities in QLD to embark on an economic transition away from a dependency on coal mining was undertaken this year by Just Transition Brisbane (JTB).

A picture of a solar array in a field in Portugal.

Serpa solar plant in Portugal. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org.

The specific research aim was to identify any potential barriers and/or opportunities in relation to this kind of economic transition taking place. The region of Oakey was identified as being an important case study for this research, due to the fact that the nearby Acland Coal Mine is currently applying to expand their mining operations.

Representatives of the five categories (government, agriculture, business/tourism, local community, social/environmental community organisations) were approached with a set of key questions and the answers to these questions have been presented in the Just Transitions: transitioning toward a mining free future report.

The following list of opportunities and recommendations summarise the findings of this important research project.

Opportunities for alternative economic development for the Oakey region include: 

  • Return to agriculture and related industries, eg. cropping, piggeries, and feedlots
  • Possibility of expansion of meat works and army base
  • Development of poultry industry
  • Lightweight perishable crops distributed via Wellcamp airport
  • Small business opportunities connected to agriculture, eg. rural supply
  • New retail and residential opportunities to support the increase in business opportunities
  • Alternative use of existing infrastructure to power new manufacturing industries
  • Tourism that supports sustainability of the region’s natural resources and promotes cultural assets: eco-tourism, on-farm visits, B&Bs, food & beverage, and regional cuisine-based enterprises and festivals
  • Establishment of alternative, renewable energy generation: wind and solar farms.

Recommendations to support possible alternative economic development:

  • Facilitation of ongoing community engagement with state and local government representatives
  • Widespread promotion of viable economic development opportunities for the region — especially in regards to job creation and re-skilling/up-skilling of locals
  • Support from community and relevant stakeholders for development of locally-based economic action plan for transition
  • Community support for the development of communications strategies to target identified stakeholders
  • Facilitation of engagement activities with youth sectors of the Oakey region in relation to training and up-skilling for new/alternative industries
  • Need for community engagement campaigns in relation to the reality of the long-term physical and environmental effects of mining

This important research responds to an urgent need to address the perception that regional communities must remain dependent on mining jobs in particular. And the findings contained in the report indicate that while this issue is both complicated and contested, there is growing support for both transition and diversification for regional economies throughout QLD.

(The information contained in the Just Transitions: Transitioning towards a mining free future report was identified as part of a Participatory Needs and Opportunities Assessment (PNOA) completed for the Master of Communication for Social Change at The University of Queensland.

The PNOA was undertaken on behalf of the Just Transitions Brisbane (JTB) group. JTB aim to work with communities traditionally economically dependent on mining in order to support a just transition — to a locally supported economy that is diverse and largely self-sufficient, and thus more sustainable and equitable in the long term).

A link to more information can be found here: Just Transitions Presentation 2015

Oakey Coal Action Alliance would like to thank the members of Just Transitions Brisbane for their interest and efforts in undertaking this pivotal study.

“New Hope AGM: Shareholders told to think of farmers.”

Article from the Queensland Times, published by Joel Gould on 19th Nov 2015

“THINK of the farmers, not the shareholders.

“That was a key message of more than 30 protesters outside the Ipswich Civic Centre yesterday as the New Hope Group AGM went on inside.

Photo by Rob Miles, copyright Queensland Times 2015.

Photo by Rob Miles, copyright Queensland Times 2015.

The concerned community members are opposed to New Hope’s planned expansion of stage three of the Acland mine on the Darling Downs and the proposed Colton mine on the Mary River, both of which they say will have devastating results for farmers, landholders and communities.

Lock the Gate spokesperson Kate Dennehy said there was a lot at stake for the community near the Acland mine.

“The concern for the Acland farmers is that a lot of them put money into their properties when the ALP and LNP both said stage three would not go through, but now it seems to be going through,” she said.

“The only choice they have now is to take it to the land court which is most unfair.

“They are trying to run their properties and at the same time they are up against the might of Clayton Utz lawyers who will be fighting to get this mine through. The farmers are going to lose their water resources, livelihoods and farms.

“Our message we are trying to send to the AGM shareholders is to think of the farmers before you vote to proceed with these coal mines which are a thing of the past.

“Instead of the shareholders thinking about what is going into their pockets, think of what is coming out of the farmers’ pockets.

“The way forward for Australia is renewables where there are more jobs.”

A fact sheet put out by Lock the Gate claimed that the proposed Acland expansion would result in the loss of more than 1300 hectares of strategic cropping land, cause drawdown in groundwater aquifers of up to 47m in some locations, worsen noise and air quality and impact negatively on threatened species, along with other adverse impacts.

The farmers who will be impacted by the Acland expansion were meeting their lawyers yesterday.

“The farmers involved in the land court case to do with Acland stage three wanted to be here today, but they and their lawyers could only get together on this day at this time,” Ms Dennehy said.

“But they have sent their support for us and our grateful for what we can do to get their message out.”

A New Hope Group spokesperson said the company respected the rights of people to express their views.

The spokesperson said that the protest by what it called activist groups appeared to be part of a wider campaign to stop the Australian coal industry.

“Our door is always open for anyone to come and talk to us about any issues they may have in a sensible and constructive way,” the spokesperson said.

Clancy Morrison of the 350.org, a worldwide climate change organisation was on hand to lend his voice to the protest.

“Our mandate is to solve the global climate crisis and a big part of that is keeping fossil fuels in the ground,” he said.

“Obviously New Hope is keen to dig up more than they have been and that is something we are keen to put a stop to.”

John Ingram, an anti-coal activist who wants to see the economy depend less on coal, said “over 80% of the royalties will not go to the Queensland Government”

“They will go to the owners of the property, which happen to be the mine.

“So the mine will be paying itself a majority of the royalties,” he said.”