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.