Koalas, Coal and community collide.

koala small

 

There are only few koalas (including a baby) that are surviving in the Acland district and they are regarded as at grave risk of extinction according to Oakey residents. We explain:

Koalas have always lived at Acland. The now closed Acland State School, even used the koala as a school emblem on their banner and newsletters. They live in their favourite Poplar Box trees which are dispersed right over the New Hope Stage 3 mining lease area, but are frequent visitors to other tree types found across thousands of hectares of Acland land .

New Hope Coal were sent back to the drawing board by the Queensland Government in November 2012 after the LNP’s election promise to stop the original Stage 3 project.  The company were instructed to submit a new Terms of Reference for the revised project by the Queensland Coordinator General because it was a substantially altered proposal.

This is a different project to the original Stage 3.And the koala was listed as ‘vulnerable’ in May 2012 according to the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, before the New Hope Group re-applied for this modified project. This mob, who state they are a proud Australian company, are trying to use a legislative technicality to avoid having to put in place any meaningful conservation measures to protect the local Koala population. They have claimed their Environmental Impact Statement need address only issues of National significance that were listed on or before 2007.

Many koalas have been killed by trucks on the haul road to the mine, yet Acland is an area which is remarkably free of the other major threats faced by Koalas in urban areas, such as dog attack. The impending massive land clearing and increased mine traffic is now the greatest risk to the local population’s survival.

 Despite their extensive advertising campaign promoting themselves as part of the local community, New Hope’s  actions indicate quite the contrary. They are prepared to do only the bare minimum to contribute towards local environmental values and the long term sustainability of our region. Our group will use every resource we have to protect these few remaining Acland koalas. We will not stand by and watch one koala tree be destroyed or any more koalas put at risk for the sake of a rich city-based company profiting from coal. We are sure many other Australians will join us.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Public submission period for Stage 3 is with us

Please read the following for information about the EIS. Hopefully we will be able to provide a link to a site soon where a simple one or two step submission is possible. Stay tuned!

Don’t be daunted by the process or the Government preamble below. It is designed to confound and confuse the public so fewer people try, but other ways of making submissions are possible, including hand writing. It is still a legal submission if you don’t use their preferred form or if you don’t sign your email copy. Just get your thoughts down and sent them in. Please contact us for any assistance. We will be having extra meetings in this period to help.

Making a submission for the Stage 3 EIS New Acland Expansion

Access Coordinator Generals Office webpage info about submissions and forms: http://www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/new-acland-coal-mine-stage-3-expansion.html

This will direct you to New Hope’s website to access EIS or Executive Summary

http://www.aclandproject.com.au/

Submissions close at 5pm on 3 March 2014.

How to make a submission

1. Read the draft EIS

  • Read the fact sheet on making a submission ( 388 KB), and
  • complete the draft EIS submission form ( 247 KB).

    If you have special communication needs and wish to make a submission, telephone

    the EIS project manager on +61 7 3452 7433 to make alternative arrangements.

    3. Send your submission

    Send your completed and signed submission form to one of the following:

    Email: newaclandproject@coordinatorgeneral.qld.gov.au This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Post:
    The Coordinator-General
    c/- EIS project manager – New Acland Coal Mine Stage 3 project
    Coordinated Project Delivery
    Office of the Coordinator-General
    PO Box 15517
    City East Qld 4002 Australia

    Fax: +61 7 3452 7486

    Read more about making a submission on a draft EIS

    The EIS must contain all the information needed to address the

    Terms of Reference (TOR) for the project, including a comprehensive Social Impact Assessment  and the proposed mitigation actions.

    From the Factsheet for making a submission :

Checklist

When making a submission:

 clearly state the matter(s) of concern or interest and list points to help with clarity

 reference the relevant section(s) of the draft EIS

 provide factual information relied upon and its source

 describe the measure you consider would be appropriate to improve the proposal

 provide sketches or diagrams if they assist to clarify your submission

 ensure your submission is legible.

Note: Under section 157O of the SDPWO Act, it is an offence to give the Coordinator-General a document that contains information known to be false or misleading.

For a submission to be ‘properly made’ under the SDPWO Act, it must:

 be made to the Coordinator-General in writing

 be received on or before the last day of the submission period

  • be signed by each person who makes the submission

 state the name and address of each person who makes the submission

 state the grounds of the submission and facts and circumstances relied on.

Note: Under the SDPWO Act, the Coordinator-General may accept a submission that is not a ‘properly made’ submission. However, to ensure you have appeal rights under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009, your submission must be ‘properly made’.

For more information about this consultation, contact the Office of the Coordinator-General on:

email newaclandproject@coordinatorgeneral.qld.gov.au

From OCAA:  How to complete the submission form:

This is like our TOR submission early in the year. You don’t have to follow this table exactly but they suggest the following format

        1. Section of the EIS
        2. Describe the issue
        3. Suggested solution

          They show a sample submission page, (see below).

          Download the draft EIS submission form and add extra pages as you need.

          The Coordinator General is permitted by law to collect personal information.

          Social Impact Assessment and other important stuff

          This is a requirement of coordinated projects

          The Guidelines for SIA are found here http://www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/resources/guideline/social-impact-assessment-guideline.pdf

          The Social Impact Assessment is found in Chapter 16 of the EIS.

          The Social Impact Management Plan is found in Appendix J 14 of the EIS

          The Appendix J is very important to look at and comment on- besides SIMP it has rehabilitation plans, air emissions and water management plans, biodiversity offsets, the Heritage Colliery Management Plan etc etc

      • Take stock of what OCAA has and is achieving. We have everyone to thank for this-members, other groups, family and external experts. It is a group effort, so well done to everyone and thank you! Stay well and let us know if you need any help.
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Grazing trials at Acland

A recent letter sent to local media:

‘Home brand’ not ‘world class’ grazing trials.

Dear Editor

We are concerned farmers, community members or scientists who are appalled by the Acland grazing trial claims by New Hope Coal.

We have all witnessed the devastation of a town, a local farming community and a local agricultural based economy in nearby Oakey. We have watched this company roll out a media campaign in recent months with the sole aim of gaining Government approval for a large scale open cut mine which should never be allowed in a rich farming area of the inner Downs. Farmers and scientists alike are disgusted at the media hype surrounding a single ‘homebrand’ grazing trial conducted in 2012, without independent or academic supervision, peer review or publication.

We now listen to Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise group stating this rehabilitation is ‘world class’. Their spokesperson, Jo Shepherd, has clearly little concept of what this means- there are no pre and post mining soil tests available, no methodology and raw data available for scrutiny, no organic matter tests or microscopic or chemical soil analysis, no chemical residue tests of meat or organ tissue of animals grazed, no long term grazing trial results of maintained grazing AT COMMERCIAL GRAZING PRESSURES. This same single trial has been serially  publicised by the company since 2012 as ‘needing repeating to verify results’ (because it so faulty control cattle lost weight) to ‘showing promise’ to ‘showing that Acland mined land can be grazed or even cropped in the future’ to ‘will be better than before’ and now ‘world class’. The closer to the date of the release of the EIS, the more wondrous seem the results.

Rehabilitation in Queensland is a serious issue, and governments- through poor regulation and lack of enforcement- are allowing a toxic legacy for future generations. There are 15000 abandoned mines in Queensland and no fully rehabilitated mines- including New Hope’s other tenements. As coal prices fall or reserves are depleted companies will walk away from their commitments and receive little more than a fine and a slap on the wrist. This mine at Acland will be no different. It is estimated there is $4 billion in unpaid fines due to the Queensland Government for non-compliance with mine rehabilitation.

Scientists have told us what they are doing at Acland are the same crude methods employed in the central Queensland for the past 20 years. Stockpile the few inches of topsoil and spread it back again after mining, have a trial patch lightly grazed which shows that a few cattle manage for 90 days and preferably film a man and a horse with the said cattle for PR purposes. Look at the Moranbah district moonscape from air and judge for yourself the real environmental impacts.

The only ‘world class’ aspects of this New Hope grazing trial are the media spin and depths of deception that have accompanied it. Our communities deserve scientific rigour as well as journalists who are prepared to see beyond propaganda to ask questions. New Hope must now publish their trial methodology and data for the public to review and be able to draw their own conclusions.

Oakey Coal Action Alliance Executive (John Cook (Pres), Dr Reg Pascoe (sec), Dr Nicki Laws, Carole Wieck, Peter Faulkner) Jim Leggate (Ecologist and former Mine Environmental Regulator), Dr John Standley (Soil and Plant Scientist)

For further reading and response from New Hope follow this link to Toowoomba Chronicle report:

http://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/activists-unhappy-with-new-hopes-home-brand-trials/2135250/

 

 

 

 

New Year Greetings to all

All the best to our members and supporters for the year ahead. We know it will be an important year in our ongoing fight to keep our district safe from inappropriate mining on good farmland… As well as the gloom and doom associated with the recent decisions by the State and Federal Governments (and  anti-environment Minister Hunt), we feel encouraged by the solidarity and camaraderie from so many good people all around the country equally outraged by the decisions of our political leaders favouring big industry over ordinary people like us- farmers, retirees, people who care for Australia’s amazing biodiversity and natural beauty, and our clean food and water.

On a more pragmatic level, our recent raffle was drawn and declared a great success. The beautiful handmade quilt was won by N Sparks and garden mosaic by P Langton. Thanks to Bobbie and Joy in particular for selling tickets, as well as all our valued members and supporters who sold, bought or simply donated to our worthy cause!

We have much planned for 2014, so please stay in touch. We hope you and your family have good health, happiness in all you do and  good seasons ahead.

 

 

 

New Acland Mine Economic Claims are on Shaky Ground

MEDIA RELEASE 13th Dec 2013

Oakey Coal Action Alliance executive have welcomed the recent Australia Institute critique of New Hope Coal’s Acland mine economic claims, called ‘Biting the land that feeds you. The economics of the New Acland Coal Mine.’ John Cook, newly elected President of the community group formed several years ago in opposition to the Acland Stage 3 expansion, agreed with the report which highlights the lack of local or regional benefits from mining at Acland. ‘We hear frequent first-hand accounts of the adverse economic impacts of this mine. It brought about the closure of an entire township and many farms and this has drawn the lifeblood from the surrounding district. Farming, families, schools and allied small businesses mean jobs and cash flow in the local economy. The jobs lost from Acland and district are not matched by the number of mine employees now, nor what is claimed if expansion is approved’ he said.

The Australia Institute is an independent public policy think tank, whose researchers have previously drawn attention to the adverse economic impacts of Clive Palmer’s China First mine in the Galilee Basin and the Warkworth mine in NSW. They say that resource industry job estimates are grossly exaggerated, particularly when secondary jobs are calculated. They state that these indirect job calculations are described as biased by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Productivity Commission and yet resource companies like New Hope Coal continue to use them.

They were especially critical of New Acland Coal’s cost benefit analysis conducted for the 2009 Stage 3 Environmental Impact Statement. It failed to consider the lost agricultural income and the costs to the community in closed businesses, lost retail and health impacts. Report authors Rod Campbell and Mark Ogge said all these impacts should be taken into account when mine expansions are assessed, not just substitute jobs and wages.

From pit to port, the Acland mine has been a controversial project since its 2001 beginnings. Acland is one of the few coal mines in the inner Downs, and which was a closely knit rich agricultural district boasting 70 dairy farms. The buy up and clearing of the Acland town and surrounding farms many years before  further mining had been granted approval has subsequently been in the media spotlight for a range of health and social impacts.

‘There are much bigger employers in the Oakey district than this mine’ adds John Cook ‘Fortunately many people see through New Hope’s recent round of donations for what they are; purely a ploy to get Stage 3 approval. These handouts cannot undo the environmental, social and economic harm this mine has already caused. It is high time that Governments listened more closely to what Queensland communities need for a healthy, sustainable and productive future.’

To read this informative report follow this link:

http://www.tai.org.au/content/biting-land-feeds-you

 

Peak Pollution off the scale at Jondaryan

Community monitoring draws national attention to coal health hazard

Clean Air Queensland Alliance

 Clean Air Queensland, an alliance of community groups including OCAA, recently announced the results of their community air quality monitoring study at the Jondaryan stockpile, to coincide with a feature report on the national program The Project.

Using industry-standard air quality monitoring equipment, members of Clean Air Queensland monitored particle pollution levels beside the coal stockpile. The equipment measures respirable particles of ten microns in diameter (PM10). With expert assistance to deploy the monitoring equipment and analyse the data, Clean Air Queensland has launched their report ‘Off the Scale: Peak pollution events at the Jondaryan coal stockpile’.

The report reveals that PM10 pollution levels in the area, just 550 metres from the nearest home in Jondaryan, peak at over 6000 micrograms per cubic metre. This is compared to the national standard of 50 micrograms per cubic metre over a 24 hour average.

“Particulate pollution causes asthma, lung cancer and respiratory illnesses, and has recently been classified by the World Health Organisation as a carcinogen. It’s time for the Queensland Government to start protecting the health of our communities,” epidemiologist Dr Andrew Jeremijenko said.

“Coal dust is a major source of particulate pollution, which kills more Australians each year than car crashes. We’ve found evidence of regular extreme peaks in particulate pollution at the stockpile and we’re concerned about the health impact this is having on local residents. Families here, and all along the coal dust corridor to the port in Brisbane, are being impacted by coal dust,” Clean Air Queensland spokeswomen Hannah Aulby said.

The Queensland Government is supporting plans to double the amount of coal travelling from Jondaryan through Ipswich, Toowoomba and Brisbane suburbs to the port. Coal dust is a serious health hazard at current levels, and any expansion plans will put more families and communities living along the coal dust corridor at risk,” said OCAA president Peter Faulkner.

“We’re calling on the Queensland Government to take this health concern seriously. We need a commitment to cover the coal trains and stockpiles, and stop any increases in uncovered coal train traffic through Brisbane,” Ms Aulby concluded.

OCAA representatives recently met with the Premier, Environment Minister and Mining Minister. Mr Newman stated his commitment for real time monitoring for coal  impacted Queensland communities.

The Qld ALP passed a motion to cover coal trains and stockpiles, and stop any increases in coal train traffic through residential areas at the State ALP conference on the weekend.

The extreme results of this pilot study indicate the urgency for proper monitoring, and the need for immediate actions to close or cover this disgraceful  and notorious coal loading facility. If Stage 3 goes ahead it will be several years before any promised  spur line is complete, and New Hope’s own revised Stage 3 Project Overview states that three new pits will be operating long before then. Noise and air pollution will be worse for Jondaryan residents, not better. This is yet another Pinocchio promise by New Hope Coal!

Web link is here http://www.cleanairqueensland.org/monitoring_study

 

 

 

Quilts and Questions at Acland

  Lots of Quilts and Questions at Acland.
Tom Doherty Park, Acland has undergone a rejuvenation   recently and had its play equipment, signage and seats restored and returned.
Now this may not seem much, but the signs were taken away in 2005 on the eve of the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh opening the Stage 2 New Acland open cut pit. New Hope Coal had bought up the town with the intention of mining the lot. Glenn Beutel, the last resident and the community fought back, and although a revised Stage 3 EIS is still being prepared, the town site and park, war memorial and Heritage listed old colliery is safe for now. At least 2.5 million tonnes of coal per annum will be kept in the ground because of this town site and park, and much more beyond this if the local community have their way.
On Saturday 23 rd Nov 2013 Acland was looking a picture with a crowd of locals, interstate visitors and a bus from Bridging the Divide, Brisbane enjoying many lovely quilts strung between the trees,  stalls, children’s art activities and a informative and probing Q and A session we reckon outdid Tony Jones!

Our very special guests at the ‘Historic Acland Day. Alive and Active into the Future’ included ABC Gardening Australia presenter Jerry Coleby- Williams and Glenys Andersen OAM, founder of the Tidy Towns competition and former Director of Keep Australia Beautiful Committee.

Before the official unveiling by the Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor of the imposing ‘Queensland’s First Tidiest Town’ and historic ‘Acland’ railway signage Glenys talked of her fond memories of the park in its hey day’s of the eighties and nineties when it was judged the Tidiest Town over 330 others. She said this return visit was very emotional for her, firstly to see the town as it is today flattened of houses, but also to witness the enduring spirit of those fighting to save what is left of the district. Her Tidiest Town efforts have been credited with instigating the planting of 15 million trees across Australia, including thousands at Acland. What a legacy that is!

Jerry spoke of the power of small actions by many people bringing about massive positive change, and the vital need to look after Australia’s precious soil and water. During the Q and A he also explained simply but beautifully for the audience the importance of soil biomass (mycorrhizal fungi, organic matter and bacteria), which is abundant in normal soils but lacking in reclaimed soils.
The expert panel for the ’Question and Acland’ session including Doctors, Church leaders, environmentalists, farmers, horticulturists and  the Mayor.

The day was declared a great success by members of the Oakey Coal Action Alliance who organised the event and our many friends and supporters. A massive scarf over 100 metres long knitted by Nanas from all over Australia now adorns the trees of Tom Doherty Park! Perhaps a woollen scarf is overkill in this sweltering Queensland summer, but it is a wonderful symbol that the small united efforts of many hands and hearts will eventually prevail.

Thanks to 360°org, Bridging the Divide, Knitting Nanas, High Country News and Oakey Champion for their publicity and the many people who made this event a great success.

Please follow this link for some great pictures of the day:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/andryahart/sets/72157637991739723/

Thanks, Norway!

One of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, the Norwegian Pension
Fund, is likely to completely divest from coal. It’s not uncommon to
find Norges in the list of top ten investors in many of the companies groups like ours are campaigning against.
http://energiogklima.no/nyhetsblogg/bjartnes/norways-swf-to-divest-from-coal/

The Norwegian Pension Fund invests in the following Australian coal
companies: Bathurst Resources, Beach Energy, BHP, Coal of Africa,
Coalspur, Cockatoo Coal, Cokal, Downer EDI, New Hope, Newcrest, White
Energy, Whitehaven Coal and Yancoal. (as well as some multinational
mining companies like Idemitsu).
They also invest in the following oil and gas companies: AGL, Dart
Energy, Incitec Pivot, Santos and Woodside Petroleum.

Today we also heard that BHP Billiton is pulling back from their Abbott Point project and ordinary people are continuing to move their funds from banks investing in these massive and polluting projects.
We hope more companies, investment firms and individuals wake up to the many poor examples of  social and environmental irresponsibility being enacted all over Queensland, including by New Hope at Acland.

Date claimer 23rd November Tom Doherty Park, Acland

Please join us for this major event. From 9 am until 1 pm we will have displays, talks and activities in the Park. There will be food stalls, market stalls, “Airing of the Quilts” and children’s arts and craft activities. Various community and environmental groups and scientific experts will be present to answer your questions.

Our special guest for the day is Jerry Coleby-Williams, presenter on ABC Gardening Australia and owner of Bellis House, a stunningly productive and sustainable contemporary Brisbane garden.

Come along to take part in another moment in Acland’s interesting history, learn about Acland’s past but also what exciting opportunities lay ahead… enter a raffle draw to win a beautiful handmade bed quilt or garden mosaic. (If the weather is inclement the event will still be held but moved to an indoor location).

See you there!

 

 

Pinocchio Moments from New Hope Community Reference Group!

Well…just when we thought a February meeting statement from the New Hope handpicked and carefully orchestrated CRG took the prize ‘there are no health impacts from coal and we will provide a fact sheet to prove it!’ there is another whopper in the May minutes. In response to a question about off site water discharge from the Acland mining operations, Manager Jim Randall replied:

‘The only water to leave the site was in evaporation or in the coal after washing’

Do they really think people are that gullible? OCAA has written to the Chair of the group, Professor Cuthill to highlight what are common practices at Acland (and most other Queensland mines). When heavy rains occur such as January 2011 and Jan 2013 New Hope pumped water from their full environmental dams into Lagoon Creek (which flows through farmland and the township of Jondaryan into Oakey Creek and hence the Condamine and Murray Darling systems). The Qld government give mining companies permission to perform such water and land pollution  after a little ‘creek side test’ by the company of water pH and electrical conductivity ‘proving’ the water is safe …

In our letter we showed photos of the 10 days worth of pumping during January 2013 (the rainfall hardly warranted any pumping, let alone that duration-they obviously wanted their mine water storage emptied out while they could). We also showed filthy, black, disgusting looking storm water running out of the Jondaryan coal dump site to enter Lagoon Creek. Furthermore we included the company’s own Stage 3 Terms of Reference Water Management Overview Flow Chart showing water handling at Acland (Fig 12 of TOR). There is a section of this chart clearly labelled ‘off site water discharges!’

Now if we are getting really picky we could have included photos of the January 2012 discharges of coal straight into the Brisbane River at New Hope’s bulk handling facility, for which the company  received nothing more than a light tap on the wrist from DEHP and a note to continue to use hay bales to block the disgorgement of coal if required. We wondered whether the couple of hay bales used (small ones, mind you), originated from New Acland Pastoral?? A nice cost cutting measure from the ‘low cost coal miner’ there!

Note to the Shareholders of Washington H. Soul Pattinson (including the Pharmacy, Health and Beauty Chain) and New Hope Coal: Our communities demand much better care of our farms, communities, soil and waterways. We also expect the truth.

We reiterate : OCAA sees no benefit in meeting with this group-  its prime purpose (and belated timing) is to tick a box for the Coordinator General in an attempt to gain Stage 3 approval. We offer words of warning to Jimbour Action Group or any other  farming community unfortunate enough to be in the cross hairs of this company…