This is the first IPC decision in relation to a greenfield coal mine since the landmark Rocky Hill judgement in February this year.
In the Rocky Hill case the Land and Environment Court refused approval of a new coal mine to be built just outside of the small town of Gloucester. This is the first time an Australian court has refused consent for a coal mine on the basis of its climate change impacts.
The Court accepted scientific evidence concerning carbon emissions associated with the proposed mine and the concept of a global carbon budget.
The Court stated, “In short, an open cut coal mine in this part of the Gloucester valley would be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Wrong place because an open cut coal mine in this scenic and cultural landscape, proximate to many people’s homes and farms, will cause significant planning, amenity, visual and social impacts.
“Wrong time because the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) of the coal mine and its product will increase global total concentrations of GHGs at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in GHG emissions. These dire consequences should be avoided. The project should be refused.”
This landmark case is a turning point in climate litigation in Australia and it is thanks to the work of the Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO.) These public interest environmental lawyers are at the forefront of using the law to protect our climate and nature for current and future generations.
Our Society supports the work of the EDO with a modest annual donation and suggests that members also consider supporting the EDO in the same way.
From July the management of the Streamwatch program was taken over by the Greater Sydney Landcare Network. This is very welcome news. There had been a risk that this valuable program would be discontinued because the NSW government's annual funding of $100,000 was uncertain. Streamwatch, with almost 300 volunteers, plus 30 years of data, has to have a paid coordinator. It's an impressively cost-effective program established in 1990 by Sydney Water and was managed by the Australian Museum until recently under its citizen science programs. It's a great project that has given schoolchildren, community groups and individuals a meaningful way of getting into the environment.
Data will be migrated to the SEED platform – an open government repository of environmental information hosted by the environmental cluster within the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. The Landcare Network is delaying taking on new volunteers until the new testing system is finalised.
Streamwatch volunteers monitor our waterways and deliver scientifically accurate data on water quality and biology, mentor students, alert authorities on pollution events, collect litter, provide biosecurity surveillance and provide a historical record of how waterway health has tracked over time. The program engenders understanding and stewardship of our bioregion's ecosystems. This represents a big outcome for a small price!
Streamwatch has repeatedly been the first alert organisation for pollution events. Skilled members of the public perform a brilliant service to the community. Last year 796 data sets were uploaded to the Streamwatch database making almost 5000 data points. How good is that?!
400,000 Australians put second-hand first as part of Australia’s biggest weekend of garage sales on the third weekend of October – this year it is Saturday-Sunday 19-20 October, but because the City of Ryde Council hold their annual Granny Smith Festival on that weekend, they support the Car Boot Sale held by East Ryde Scout Group on the Sunday after - 27 October this year - at the corner of Twin and Badajoz Roads, East Ryde.
You can host your own garage sale or shop the trail!
During September the NSW Independent Planning Commission released its decision to refuse permission for the mine, citing unacceptable impacts on groundwater, heritage and some of Australia’s best agricultural soils.
The Commission made it clear that the mining development would have been contrary to the principle of intergenerational equity and that it would contribute to climate change. This is a great outcome for local farmers who worked tirelessly to protect this incredible place from mining.
The Nature Conservation Council (NCC) believes it is the largest thermal coal mine that has been refused in Australia to date. If it had been approved, it would have operated for 25 years, until at least 2045, and damage to the valley would have been permanent. NCC acknowledges the work of Lock The Gate and other NCC member groups who fought long and hard for this historic decision.
According to a recent article* by Peter Hannam published by The Sydney Morning Herald, coal mining under Sydney's drinking water catchment is drying up sensitive swamps and creeks, and draining groundwater, with more damage likely if a planned expansion allowing mining until 2048 within the Metropolitan Special Area wins approval.
South32's Dendrobium Coking Coal Mine beneath the Cordeaux and Avon Dam catchments is seeking approval to extend operations within its mining lease; however, documents obtained under Freedom Of Information show WaterNSW has raised concerns.
A visit to the area with WaterNSW guides found a swamp near one of the mine's longwalls had all but dried out, with grasses and shrubs dying off on the formerly wet region. Swamps serve as a giant sponge, absorbing rain during falls and releasing water during dry times. When these endangered ecological communities dry out there can be greater erosion and increased fire risk.
WaterNSW believes deep cracks in dry stream beds in the area were worsened by subsidence resulting from coal extraction by longwall mining about 400 metres below.
Dr Peter Turner, mining projects science officer with the National Parks Association, said "Not allowing mining that could cause the drainage zone to reach the surface, with seam to surface connected fractures, should be a fundamental catchment protection principle and policy... The damage, degradation and water loss would be very much less than is so disturbingly obvious now.”
Other dams in the Upper Nepean Catchment Area are Cataract and Nepean; both have Wollongong Coal’s longwall mining operations under their catchments. All four dams feed water into Warragamba for distribution throughout Sydney.
SOURCE: Dr Peter Turner
* See the full article here.