Sunday, May 28, 2017

DERM rejects coalmine’s Environmental Management Plan – Congratulations to Aldershot Community

Posted by Jim on September 30, 2010

The Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management [DERM] has rejected an application for an open-cut coal mine a mere 2-3 kilometres from the township of Aldershot and just outside the Maryborough City Boundary.  A DERM spokesperson is reported to have said that the main grounds for rejection of Northern Energy Corporation’s application and Environmental Management Plan were soil characteristics, groundwater and potential impacts to waterways.

This represents a major win for the Aldershot community, which has campaigned long and hard against the mine.

We congratulate the Aldershot community in its steadfast and savvy campaign against the Colton Coal Mine, an open cut mine that was to be dug on the community’s doorstep.

Without Aldershot and District against Mining’s [AADAM] campaign, Northern Energy Corporation’s plans for an extensive mine outside Aldershot and Maryborough might have slipped under the radar and been approved by the State Government.

They did not go it alone, though, and the Wide Bay Conservation Council is also to be congratulated in standing shoulder to shoulder with the community.

The same cannot be said for local politicians, none of whom openly opposed the mine, with the exception of a single Fraser Coast Regional Councillor. The only party that consistently fought against the mine on public health and environmental grounds was The Greens.

The coalmining issue in our region is not dead, however, and The Greens have already responded to the Tiaro Coal proposals to establish open-cut mines in the Munna Creek area in the Gympie Times.

The whole question of mines along the Mary River and its basin needs to be re-evaluated by the Bligh Labor Government before any more of the mining companies seek to exploit the Maryborough Coal Basin.

Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson, Wide Bay Federal Electorate, 30 September 2010

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Protection needed for Mary River from coalmines

Posted by Jim on August 13, 2010

Green Candidate’s response to Coalition promise to pledge $125,000 to support the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee riparian tree planting program:

I welcome Mr Truss’s initiative to support the wonderful work done by Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee, but it could be a matter of too little too late.  As well as the ecological vandalism from the State Government pipeline, the Mary River faces major threats from open-cut coalmining at Tiaro, the beautiful Munna Creek and Aldershot. Mr Truss has been silent on protecting the Mary River from the inevitable impacts on groundwater and aquifers on the health of the Mary River.  The proposed mines will also threaten the heritage of the internationally recognised Great Sandy wetlands at the mouth of the Mary River.

While the promised funding would assist the work of the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee, Mr Truss commits nothing to protecting the Mary River from environmental disaster arising from coalmining.

Comments published in an article in the Noosa News, Friday, 13 August 2010

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Kin Kin Quarry: What Anna Bligh said on Kin Kin development

Posted by Jim on August 2, 2010

Proposals to allow the expansion of the Kin Kin quarry raise issues about its suitability in the Kin Kin district.  The following are comments made by the former Minister for Infrastructure and now Premier about the Titanium tourist project, which are relevant to the quarry:

“I need to be satisfied the proposed size and location is consistent with the intent of the SEQ Regional Plan.

“The site includes good quality agricultural land and areas of significant biodiversity value – the very areas the SEQ Regional Plan was established to protect.

“The Regional Plan is our safeguard to ensure growth in SEQ is managed in a sensible fashion. It protects more than 80 per cent of the region from urban development while providing for better land use, environmental protection, improved connections between homes and infrastructure and sustainable use of resources such as water and energy.”

“Ms Bligh said her decision followed a rigorous assessment process by the State Government and Noosa Shire Council. The development application has been the subject of deliberation by numerous agencies since it was lodged in November 2005….”

[Noosa Shire Council] refused the application, citing reasons including that the application was in conflict with their own planning scheme….
[Ministerial Media Statement, 18 April 2007]

Ms Bligh said in Parliament last year:

“No wonder the expert planning advice I received as part of the call-in said that ‘the proposed development would introduce inappropriate levels of development’ and that ‘the site has significant biodiversity values’ and ‘there is no overriding public interest to justify the conversion of this land to non-rural development’.”

As State departments dither on the quarry, why are not the same principles being applied by the the Council and State Government on this issue?

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River Threat

Posted by Jim on July 21, 2010

I refer to your article, “Still fighting for Mary River” [Gympie Times, 17 July 2010], which refers to State Government plans to harvest water from the river.

The Mary River also faces major threats from coal mines at Munna Creek and along the river near Tiaro. Closer to the mouth of the Mary, the estuary faces the risks of pollution from a coal mine planned along the Susan River that flows into the Mary River estuary.

What the Mary River needs is a concerted clean-up of water quality. Instead we see more talk of measures that will further degrade the river.

I have written to the federal Environment Minister to intervene in the Colton Coal Mine proposed near the Susan River, but with the timing of the Federal election we fear that the State Government and the miners will proceed with approvals that will change the ecology of the Mary River forever.

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate
Wide Bay Electorate

Published in Gympie Times, 21 July 2010

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Greens Wide Bay candidate urges Federal Minister to intervene on Colton Coal Mine

Posted by Jim on July 10, 2010

I have writen to the Federal Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, pointing out the environmental risks associated with the Colton Coal Mine outside Maryborough and Aldershot:

Dear Minister

Northern Energy Corporation plans to develop a 200 metre deep open-cut coal mine adjacent to the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar wetland in Hervey Bay. It is 3 km from the Susan River that flows into the Mary River and forms the Ramsar boundary. It is 3 km from the town of Aldershot and 7 km from Maryborough. The Corporation plans to pump excess water from a coalwash plant that is capable of processing 1.5 million tons of coal a year to Saltwater Creek that also flows into the Mary River estuary. This represents a major environmental threat as well as a health threat to nearby communities.

You refused approval for the Traveston Dam in the Mary Valley among other reasons “because it had the potential to impact on nationally listed threatened species, migratory species, the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar wetland, and the World Heritage values of Fraser Island.”

The Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands on your Department’s website says the area covers significant seagrass habitat, which is “likely to be one of the most important habitat components for maintenance of the present ecological health and diversity exhibited by the region.”

These areas act as nursery and feeding grounds for prawns and fish, and feeding grounds for dugong and turtles. The Information Sheet also records sightings of Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins [Sousa Chinensis], pilot whales and false killer whales in the region.

Those Ramsar wetlands have come under an even greater threat from coalmining. Northern Energy Corporation has completed drilling assays in the Wallum landscape behind Hervey Bay and has applied to the Queensland Government for a mining lease for the establishment of a 100 million tonnes plus open-cut coal mine close to the Susan River boundary of the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar wetland.

The Susan River is critical to the health of the Great Sandy wetlands in the Mary River estuary. It has a small but significant inflow into the estuary and the wetlands. At least two species of dolphin, the bottlenose dolphin and the common dolphin use the Susan River.

The Susan River is a Queensland Declared Fish habitat. According to the Information Sheet, the Susan River and Maroom Fish Habitat Areas combine to protect (in part) tidal lands of approximately 28,000 ha in the centre of Great Sandy Strait.

The Susan river is also home to six species of mangroves, which are used extensively for honey production by commercial beekeepers.

The Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia listed potential threats from the levels of chemical pollutants and turbidity/siltation in the system as a result of increased urbanisation and agricultural activities. The threat of heavy metals and other pollutants from an open-cut coal mine intensifies the threats to the integrity of the ecology of the wetlands.

I therefore call upon you to intervene in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 before an election is called to prevent this mine being approved when the Government is in caretaker mode.

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Greens support Kin Kin residents’ objections to quarry

Posted by Jim on June 30, 2010

In 2007, Anna Bligh, then Minister for Infrastructure refused an application for the development of a $400 million tourism development in the village of Kin Kin.  Not only did she say that the project was in conflict with the SEQ regional plan, which allows for smaller tourism businesses such as farm stays and Bed and Breakfast establishments, but she also pointed out, “The region just doesn’t have the infrastrucure to support a development of this size.”

The Kin Kin district doesn’t have the infrastructure for up to 40 trucks a day carrying up to 42 tonnes of rock on the roads either.  Kin Kin is notorious for the narrow winding roads that lead to the town.  Roads in and out of Kin Kin will become a death trap.

Today I visited this quiet little corner and saw Sunshine Coast Regional Council surveyors marking out the road leading from the quarry to the Kin Kin – Wolvi Road for an upgrade.  There is nothing in the Main Roads budget for improving the roads. And, this is despite the Council and Kin Kin residents about to face each other in court.

Wahpunga Creek flows off a ridge, past the quarry, and eventually into Kin Kin Creek, which in turn flows into the Noosa River.  The Department of Environment doesn’t call this a stream!

Walpinga Creek

Wahpunga Creek: Qld Dep't of Environment & Resource Management says this is not a creek! Photo Jim McDonald

When it rains, it is quite clear from the next photograph that the stream suffers from quarry run-off.  This flows eventually through to  Kin Kin Creek and Noosa River.  This case is an example of tricksy, bureaucratic nonsense emanating from Departments whose function is to protect the environment, but whose arbitrary decisions are ultimately harmful to residents and the environment.  This is what the quarry did to the Wahpunga Creek after rain:

Wahpunga Creek with quarry run-off

Wahpunga Creek downstream from quarry after rain; clear surface water flowing from neighbour's property Photo Maree Glasby

By the way, the road being surveyed, Sheppersons Lane, is part of the Noosa Trail Network!

There are some complicated issues about the legality of the quarry, which has been a small part-time quarry for years.  But, the central issue is that accessibility issues have the seeds of tragedy in them if this small quarry is upscaled. Meanwhile, the lessee forges ahead.

Kin Kin Quarry

Drilling proceeds for expanding Kin Kin Quarry, 30 June 2010 Photo Jim McDonald

The Greens support the Kin Kin community, which has been working hard to prevent their roads being overrun by large trucks that have no place in their small hamlet.  Your Wide Bay candidate, Jim McDonald, called on the LNP Opposition spokesperson on the environment, the Hon Glen Elmes, to get moving on the issue.  This needs real action to prevent a disastrous result for Kin Kin and district residents.

Jim McDonald, Greens Candidate, Wide Bay, 30 June 2010

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Tiaro Coal Mine at Munna Creek?

Posted by Jim on June 29, 2010

Tiaro Coal Limited is focussing on the development of a coal mine at Munna Creek.

Munna Creek

Munna Creek flows into Mary River Photo Jim McDonald

Munna Creek has a catchment area of 1475 square kilometres.  There are problems with weeds infesting wetlands along its course.  But, this Mary River tributary faces its greatest threat: the development of open cut coalmines.

The Greens oppose coal mines in the Wide Bay electorate.  What’s your position, Mr Truss?

Comment: Jim McDonald, Greens Candidate for Wide Bay, 29 June 2010

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Greens fishing policy encourages a sustainable industry

Posted by Jim on June 23, 2010

There is some concern in the Wide Bay electorate about the Garrett review on fisheries in the Fraser Coast and Cooloola Coast regions.  At a forum at Tin Can Bay in April called to discuss the effects on the seafood industry, the CEO of Marine Queensland, Don Jones, spoke about sustainable industry practices.

Afterwards I wrote to tell him it was clear “that your industry organisation and The Greens have far more in common than we have differences,” and sent him a copy of The Greens’ fishing policy.  Greens policy on the industry and recreational fishing is to protect fish nursery habitat and encourage environmentally benign aquaculture industries.

There are, I told him, some useful distinctions he made that should be taken into account in the question of setting up green areas [ie no-go zones] – that we need to take a three dimensional approach to the question of access on the one hand and sustainability on the other.

What Don Jones said at the forum was quite consistent with The Greens’ policy on fishing.  The first principal of our policy is the management of recreational and commercial fisheries to maintain sustainable populations and fisheries, and to minimise the environmental impacts of fishing.  There was nothing in his remarks at the forum that was at odds with The Greens’ strategy to maintain adequate, biologically representative “no-take” areas within each fishery and/or marine bio-region for the conservation of marine biodiversity and fish stocks.

Nonetheless, The Greens position is outrageously portrayed by ratbags at the edges of the industry as anti-fishing.  The Greens policy is hardly about closing down fisheries. The industry and The Greens share a concern about significant drops in some fish stocks.

The Greens go further than the industry in linking an increase in the number of Australia’s marine reserves, particularly where these improve the resilience of vulnerable fish populations.  That’s the practical way to ensure sustainability.

But the science needs to be done and the Federal and State Governments need to patrol their respective designated areas to protect sensitive fishery resources against illegal commercial and recreational fishing.  At the same time, the Federal Government review of the need for marine parks needs to look at which areas in a reserve might be no-go areas and what regulations ought to be put in place for different systems in the environment within a marine park.  Within a particular zone it might require different approaches to pelagic fish on the surface and deep water marine species, migratory fish and fishing on reefs.  The Greens do call for a moratorium on deep-sea bottom trawling in Australian waters and require a reduction of inefficient and wasteful by-catch in all trawl fisheries.

Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, has said about the review that neither the borders nor the announcement of the review of the Fraser Coast and Cooloola waters indicate which specific areas will be protected or where areas of mixed use will be allowed.

What is encouraging is that the responsible sectors of the industry, the Minister and The Greens all address the sustainability of the fishing industry.  That consensus is a better start than the irresponsible scaremongering of sections of the industry, which the the member for Wide Bay seems to be pandering to in his latest electoral report.

Comment: Jim McDonald, Greens Candidate for Wide Bay, 23 June 2010

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Time to act on Mary Valley

Posted by Jim on May 31, 2010

The beautiful Mary Valley

The Mary Valley must be planned and developed as the food bowl for the region and South East Queensland. It is in the national interest that the State and federal Governments treat the future of the Mary Valley as a matter of the highest priority.

There is an opportunity that is being missed here to put in place a highly productive and sustainable food cropping zone to feed the region and export to the rest of the country and even overseas.

The Mary Valley could become a model for efficient food production and distribution by changing the inefficient supply chain practices of the large supermarkets. The primary market for Mary Valley would be the Burnett, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast and Wide Bay regions supplied directly from the Mary Valley, with the surplus exported to the rest of Australia and overseas.

Intensive but sustainable methods could be world class with efficient water usage and re-usage.

This is the most important climate change policy and population policy for the region. and we hear nothing from either the State or Federal Government. The necessity of acting on protecting and nurturing our best land seems to have escaped the notice of Anna Bligh and Kevin Rudd.

After prematurely acquiring a large number of properties, which it finds it can’t now [sell in its] buy back [plan], the State Government owns the most fertile land in the valley, so the essential planning should be less difficult than under other circumstances.

This is about securing food supplies in an area that has a reliable water supply and fertile land.

The Mary Valley provides the opportunity for model planning in food security. The sustainable development of food production in the Mary Valley is a national as well as a state issue and Mr Rudd and Ms Bligh are to be condemned for their failure to address the question.

Letter to the Gympie Times, published 29 May 2010

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Greens support Aldershot residents in opposing coal mine

Posted by Jim on May 27, 2010

The Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Jim McDonald, told a meeting of the Maryborough Greens campaign team at a briefing on the weekend that Maryborough would soon be surrounded by a number of coalmines.

Open-cut coalmines will change Hervey Bay and Maryborough forever,” he said.Colton Coal Mine, the first of the mines, operated by Northern Energy Corporation, will be dug three kilometres from the town of Aldershot, a few kilometres north of Maryborough.

The people of Aldershot are in the front line of the worst of these changes, which will be 24 hour operations, dust, noise and lights at the mine all night, property devaluation, the destruction of the amenity of the area, and the consequent effects on their health.”

Dr McDonald met with the Aldershot and Districts Against Mining committee for two hours on Saturday afternoon and heard first-hand the fears of the town for the future of their children’s health.

He said that if the Colton Coal Mine had been operating last Friday, when the winds blew all afternoon from the east and north-east, Aldershot would have experienced dust and noise of draglines and the huge mining trucks. Toxic dust would have landed on the roofs of houses, which rely on tank water.

Candidate with AADAM Committee, Campaign Director & member of Greens Maryborough Campaign Committee

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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