Four landowners in Sutton Forest have taken Hume Coal to the Land and Environment Court claiming that Hume cannot get into their properties due to "significant improvements”. Under section 31(5) of the Mining Act, significant improvements provide the only ability for landowners in preventing mining companies accessing their properties. Significant improvements can include items such as stock-proof fences, formed roads and tracks, cropped or improved paddocks, within a 200 metre radius of dwellings and 50 metres around gardens.
In one case, the entire property is a 3 day equestrian eventing course of Olympic standard owned by Kathy and John Roche, that has been developed over the past 20 years. Kathy and John were recently named the NSW Eventing Volunteers of the Year. Kathy was a pharmacist in Moss Vale for many years and John the local doctor.
The hearing is set to start on September 14 and go for 5 days. A visit by the Court to the properties concerned will be held over the first two days. All the properties are neighbours along or near Golden Vale Road.
“This case is precedent setting” said Peter Martin. “It is the first time that a group of property owners have got together in NSW to challenge a mining company’s ability to access all of their properties for exploration because of the significant improvements. These properties are all highly developed and we contend that Hume Coal has no right under s31 to come on and drill holes given the inconvenience for landowners, disruption to day-to-day operations and potential significant damage to the properties concerned.”
The case follows the recent court action where SHCAG P/L took the Minister for Resources and Energy and Hume Coal to the Land and Environment Court challenging Hume’s latest approval to drill 25 more exploration holes in Sutton Forest. The result of that case is not yet known but the judgement is expected within 4 to 6 weeks. Many of the 25 holes were proposed to be drilled on the properties involved in the second legal case.
"This case came about because Hume is forcing all these landowners into arbitration against their will and then refuses to recognise significant improvements on these properties. Hume says that it can have its trucks, drill rigs and utes travelling back and forward through the properties at will as long as they don’t drill their holes in these locations. They also refuse to test this in court but challenge the landowners to do so which is a form of legal intimidation in our view. We think this is nonsense and is not the intent of the legislation." Peter Martin said.
For further information contact Peter Martin on 0418 800 111.
Over 1200 people attended the 'Water not coal' Rally on Saturday 7 March in Corbett Gardens. It was fantastic to see such a great turnout and we've had excellent feedback on the speakers too.
If you missed it, Alan Jones gave a rousing address, with particular focus on the lack of gumption on the part of the NSW Government to stand up to miners and use the legislative powers they've been given.
Dr Richard Denniss (CEO of economic think-tank, The Australia Institute) gave a very witty address on the economic benefits of coal mining, or should we say lack thereof. It was nicely backed up with statistics from as he put it “radical pinko organisations” like the Australian Bureau of Statistics!
Our own Kim Martin gave a very moving account of the personal, psychological, and financial toll on the landowners who are forced to deal with Hume Coal against their will. Kim's address also included a little snapshot on just how POSCO thinks of humanity, as evidenced by their behaviour in India which earned them a resounding scolding by the United Nations.
Peter Martin finished with an overview of the Groundwater Study SHCAG launched in early 2014. He explained that any mining would result in enormous volumes of water flowing into the mine and the dewatering of an area of approximately 200 square kilometres.
Thank you to all those who attended, everyone who bought T-shirts & bumper stickers, and made donations (just over $5,200 on the day) and a very special thank you to the people who joined our email database as supporters at this event (& the Moss Vale Show). Welcome!
THE LEGAL CASE
For those who may not be aware, SHCAG launched legal action against Hume Coal and the Minister for Resources & Energy in the Land & Environment Court (LEC) relating to the most recent approval for 25 new holes. These holes are in addition to the 175 already drilled in the past 4 years.
3 days of hearings have been held in the Land & Environment Court and the case will continue for another 3 days later in April. We probably won't know the outcome until at least June.
We are attempting to overturn the drilling approval and force Hume Coal to submit a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before they can do anything else at all. This is a very comprehensive and expensive environmental document that must fully address all the environmental issues including the groundwater. That will make a change! Any EIS is also open to public scrutiny and submissions from all interested parties.
Sadly the well is running dry so we will be contacting all of our supporters requesting assistance with this before the aquifer runs dry too. The legal case - which will set a very important precedent - is, as you can imagine, a pretty costly exercise. Running an organisation like SHCAG, even with the wonderful contributions from our fabulous volunteers, not only requires time & effort, but also money.
We will be launching a major fundraising initiative very soon so keep your eyes peeled! We will of course accept donations at any time so just contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to donate now.
IN THE NEWS
Latte Life featured the legal case on the front page of their January/February edition - nice to see some local coverage of this.
POSCO, the South Korean owners of Hume Coal, have attracted quite a bit of attention at home - hitting the newsstands with revelations of alleged slush funds in Vietnam and some other dubious corporate practices. We keep posting links to relevant articles as they come to light.
There was some great local coverage too of the photographic exhibition put on at BDAS by Greg Sorenson & Yasmin Idriss called "Authorisation 349: A community fighting to save its water". Some lovely images and they kindly contributed a portion of their sales to the fighting fund - Thank you!
IMPORTANT – DATE CHANGE FOR ACAC!
This month's ACAC (Anti Coal Activity Catchup) meeting at the Sutton Forest pub will now be 6.30 pm Thursday 23 APRIL (not 30 April as previously advised) - due to the current legal action/court dates. Please mark your diaries accordingly!
Sorry for the delay but we have finally loaded up some of the speeches from the Water not Coal Rally 7 March. Well worth taking the time to listen to Alan Jones, Richard Denniss, and our own Kim Martin.
Especially timely if you'd like to know a little more about this before the upcoming election - inform yourself and use your vote wisely!
Alan Jones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nwRzrRO-a0
Richard Denniss: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9QGsOvQofQ
Kim Martin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o489MpEUUZI
Hume Coal owner POSCO is in the news in Korea - and not in a good way! According to The Korea Times "Prosecutors have banned ex-POSCO Group chairman Chung Joon-yand and several other former and incumbent executives from leaving the country as part of an investigations into allegations of slush funds surrounding the steel giant's construction arm. The executives now face a summons for questioning ... The investigation is likely to expand to the entire group ..."
If you're interested (and we're sure you are!) you can read the full article here.
The Southern Highland News is running an online poll - Are you concerned about coal mining in the Southern Highlands?
And the answer would be YES, we are definitely concerned about coal mining in the Southern Highlands! They have very helpfully included a map, but sadly there is no mentioned of the potential impact on water ... We sincerely hope that everyone that votes understands this critical issue ...
You can register your vote here - please do!
Some of you may remember a previous post about a photography project that Greg Sorenson & Yasmin Idriss were doing. They have photographed and interviewed quite a few of our supporters and the exhibition is opening this Friday. Here is the link to the event page on Facebook. There are some great portraits and we'd love it if as many as possible popped in to the BDAS Gallery in Bowral. Below is some further information for you:
BDAS Gallery, BOWRAL - 28 Feb to 8 March, 2015
OPENING NIGHT - 27 Feb 2015 at 6pm
Authorisation 349: A community fighting to save their water, is a photographic project that has been undertaken in the Southern Highlands area over the last 6 months.
The project captures a moment in time during the critical climax of the Southern Highlands community’s fight to save their livelihoods and ground water from the irreversible and destructive impacts of a proposed long wall coal mine by South Korea steel giant, POSCO (Hume Coal).
The proposed coal mine licence is assigned Authorisation 349 (EL349) in all official documentation relating to the proposed mining activities in the Southern Highlands area.
The exhibition aims to capture the people and the landscape under the imposing shadow of high intensity industrialisation in one of Australia's most productive and beautiful food growing areas.
A FILM LIKE NO OTHER
Frackman is like no other Australian film. It aims to spark a broad national conversation about the risks of our headlong rush into massive coal seam gas development. Five years in the making, it not only entertains and engages, it also gives audiences the tools to get involved in what is becoming the largest social movement our nation has seen in decades. It’s a deeply political film, but not the old style that is so badly failing us. This the New Politics, bringing together old and young, city and country, conservative and progressive in a shared effort to prevent an environmental catastrophe. Can we imagine any other issue that would bring together the likes of Alan Jones and Bob Brown?
See it and find out why.
When : Saturday 21 March 2015 at 7.00 pm
Where: Upper Kangaroo River Community Hall
Hall opens at 5.30 pm with food and drinks for sale.
Come early, enjoy a meal and a drink and meet your local LOCK THE GATE team.
If you'd like more information about FRACKMAN here is the link to the website.
Hopefully we'll see you there!!!
- Coalmine showdown - Channel 7
- PRESS RELEASE - Landowners take Hume Coal back to court
- Peter Martin speaking to Alan Jones 9 June 2015
- 2ST "Hume Coal stoops to new low"
- Newsletter Coal Hard Facts Edition 3
- Water not Coal Rally Speeches
- Slush Fund Allegations hit POSCO
- Hell YES we are concerned about coal mining!
- Authorization 349: A community fighting to save its water supply
- FRACKMAN the Movie is coming to Kangaroo Valley