URGENT - We Need Your Help!

Events SHCAG - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

As many of you will know the Hume Coal Project was recently given approval to drill a further 25 exploration boreholes over a 2 year period in Sutton Forest!

We’ve received feedback that ‘apparently’ our community doesn’t really object to what Hume Coal is doing as the minister’s office didn’t receive any written objections! We need to rectify this now by bombarding the Minister with letters objecting to any new drilling!

This community has been under siege for over 4 long years.  This has had a huge impact on the affected landowners, not just financially, but also physically & emotionally.  Landowners have been forced into court and also land access arbitration against their will.

It’s costing these people many tens of thousands of dollars to fight the miners with no end in sight. Hume Coal has also denied landowners the right to have legal representation when in arbitration. They are bullies and will try anything. 

Hume Coal has now bought “Evandale” which is located right next to the Medway Reservoir, the emergency water supply for the entire Southern Highlands and the drinking water for 8,200 residents in Berrima plus parts of Bowral and Mittagong. Any mining could seriously threaten this water resource. 

Industry water experts recently completed a Groundwater Study that clearly showed that any mining will drain the water in an area of 200 square kilometres or more of the Southern Highlands affecting people way outside the coal licence area. 

Should this region lose its water, there will be a long lasting, and possibly permanent, damaging impact on all of the agricultural & farming operations in the area.  This will impact not only the farmers, but also all the businesses that support them, and the huge hospitality industry on which many rely for their livelihoods. 

Property values in the mining lease area have dropped significantly and sales have plummeted.  This won’t change until the black mining cloud is lifted. 

SO, it’s time to step up to the plate and put pen to paper people!  We need you to voice your concerns, clearly and loudly, to the ministerial office. 

It’s not often that we ask you to take action, but we do need urgent action right now, which is:

- Write a letter outlining your concerns (in your own words would be best) and send it to the Minister for Resources & Energy.  Feel free to cc SHCAG on this letter (PO Box 3380, Exeter NSW 2579 or 

- If you can spare 5 minutes, a phone call to the Minister's office wouldn't go astray. 

- Keep an eye on our website, Facebook & Twitter to make sure you don't miss out on any recent developments, and you can keep in touch with any requests for action. 

- If you can spare it, donations to help fund the fight are always welcome. 

And to save you the trouble, below are the email, postal and telephone details for the ministerial office. 

The Hon. Anthony Roberts MP

Minister for Resources & Energy

GPO Box 5341, Sydney NSW 2001

Tel: 02 8574 5600


We thank you in advance for answering this call to arms! 


Southern Highlands Coal Action Group

Lock the Gate Raffle Results

Admin | SHCAG - Monday, July 01, 2013

SHCAG Community Awareness Committee's Lock the Gate Raffle Results

Congratulations to:


1st prize    Rod Blay               Berrrima

2nd prize   John Rowe             Exeter

3rd Prize    Annabelle Power     Bowral

 A big Thank You to all participants.We raised in excess of $3,000,  and everyone will be a winner when we win as a Community.

Ordinary Citizens are Standing Together against CSG - Alan Jones talks to Peter Martin

Admin | SHCAG - Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Alan Jones interviews Peter Martin on radio - governments are reaching a precipice and we need to spread this word to stop willy nilly licence approval and make them aware that they are gambling with Sydney's drinking water.

How Our Water Supplies are Being Sold Down the Drain

Admin | SHCAG - Monday, September 17, 2012


Rivers SOS


How our Water Supplies are being Sold Down the Drain        

We concur with protests made by various groups about the Strategic Regional Land Use Policy and the Aquifer Interference Policy, released last Tuesday by the O'Farrell government. 

The NSW Farmers' Association is "bitterly disappointed." 

Not to be outdone, the NSW Irrigators' Council is "profoundly disappointed." 

The Total Environment Centre says that "environmental protection has been reduced to lip service." 

And the CEO of CSG developer Metgasco says that this "sends a clear message that the NSW government is 100% behind the industry." Indeed. 

The recurrent complaint is that, despite pre-election promises, no part of NSW is protected from the extractive industries - not prime agricultural land, not tourist sites, not vineyards or horse studs, not river systems, drinking water catchments, aquifers, lakes or wetlands. The promised "ring-fencing" of valuable areas didn't happen.


Rivers SOS is concerned with the protection of NSW's water resources,and we object to the fact that the Aquifer Interference Policy does not lay down legally binding regulations. Huge volumes of groundwater to be sucked from aquifers during CSG extraction will just be "licensed and accounted for" not disallowed.


Professor Craig Simmons, Australia's representative on UNESCO's groundwater governance programme, observes that "humanity is extracting groundwater much faster than it is naturally replaced." The rate of extraction has doubled since 1960. "Most countries and local regions are now extracting water unsustainably." (The Land, 9.1.12). Under this new regime it is set to escalate in NSW.


The NSW Office of Water will "assess" the potential impact of proposals that will impact aquifers. "Expert advice" can be obtained from a Commonwealth Independent Scientific Committee. "Independent" Planning Assessment Commission panels of "experts" will consider placing conditions on a "Gateway certificate" for sensitive applications. Or not. The fine details will be released later, but it seems that with the new regime a few more hurdles may have to be cleared and a few modifications perhaps made to controversial plans - but probably no plan will be refused outright. As is the case at present.


Rivers SOS's focus on Sydney's drinking water catchments

 Southern Coalfield representatives of Rivers SOS have a longstanding record of action over the damaging incursions of coal mining and now CSG exploration in Sydney's drinking water catchments.  For several years we have protested and sent submissions, and applied (unsuccessfully)  to the Land and Environment Court, over the cumulative damage being allowed in the catchments.


First, the cracking and pollution of the Upper Cataract River, carrying around 7% of Sydney's water supply. Then damage to the Upper Canal, carrying 20% of Sydney's water. Then severe damage to the Waratah Rivulet, supplying 30% of water supply to the Woronora Dam for large areas of southern Sydney. Creeks and swamps feeding the Waratah Rivulet are also damaged. MIning has been allowed under Cataract Dam and is approved to go under the Woronora Dam. The Dendrobium mine has destroyed swamps feeding the Cordeaux River catchment area to the south and is now set to do the same to the adjoining Avon River catchment, all within the so-called "Special Areas" of our drinking water catchment. 


 Rivers SOS sent in a detailed submission about these developments in response to the release of the draft Aquifer Interference Policy, but unlike some other groups we were not asked for further comments. Nor were we invited to be on the Stakeholder Reference Group set up to consult with government representatives on the SRLUP and AIP policies. Our request for inclusion was sidelined by the Department of Planning's DG, Sam Haddad. Nor were any other groups specifically concerned with water resources included in the talkfest. The outcome was a foregone conclusion. Water resources throughout the state are under threat, but the problem becomes even more acute in drinking water catchments.

Apex Energy's exploration lease covers Sydney's catchment and it hopes to drill 150 - 200 wells in future. Apex-Ormil have also commenced drilling in the Warragamba catchment. Warragamba Dam supplies 80% of Sydney's water.

Each well yields several thousand to tens of thousands of litres of groundwater per day. Will there be any water left to feed the river systems and the storage dams ?  

Even the supposedly highly protected Special Areas are not safe. 11 CSG borewells have been approved on Special Area lands - bushland that is fenced, gated and padlocked, where you and I can be fined $22,000 for setting foot inside. The Special Areas were created to be the pristine heartlands for the river systems supplying water to Sydney and surrounding areas. They are meant to be protected from all forms of contamination in order for water to be filtered successfully as it flows towards the storage dams.


The Sydney Catchment Authority was created to manage and protect the Special Areas, but seems powerless to stop the ongoing damage. In its 2011 document entitled Principles for Managing Mining and Coal Seam Gas Impacts it did acknowledge that the Special Areas "play a vital role to protect water quality" and that "Mining activities including exploration have had an impact on the ecological integrity of the Special Areas."  


The ABC acquired documents revealing that the SCA was seriously concerned at CSG approvals, and was considering denying Apex Energy access to the Special Areas (ABC News, 15.9.2011). This was mentioned, at a meeting in Helensburgh, by the SCA's Michael Bullen, to the delight of activists. Shortly after that, Bullen "left" the SCA and we heard no more about denial of access. Furthermore, in April the NSW government abolished seats on the SCA board for local government, farmers and environmental representatives. The SCA seems to be toeing the government line again.


The SCA consults with the industry, it has its hand up for possible future compensation, and "if impacts cannot be avoided, offsets may be necessary to ensure the overall ecological integrity of the Special Areas is not compromised." Obviously, this last sentence from the above document doesn't add up. An "impact" might contaminate the water supply, and/or deplete the aquifers feeding the rivers, but  no offsets can save or compensate for such situations. As Dr Stuart Khan, water expert from the University of NSW, said of the contamination of interconnected aquifers: "If you damage an aquifer you damage it for good'.  What offset could possibly "ensure the overall integrity of the Special Areas?"  But this is the Orwellian language the SCA is reduced to in its futile attempt to align its responsibilities with government wishes.

We believe that the protection of all the Special Areas, supplying 100% of Sydney's water, is essential.

At a public rally before the last election, Barry O'Farrell, the then Opposition Leader, stated that the next Liberal and National Government would "... ensure mining cannot occur in any water catchment area and that any mining leases and exploration permits will reflect that common sense. No ifs, no buts, a guarantee."

On December 1, 2011 the Premier told 2GB’s Alan Jones: "
I don’t intend to allow — particularly after the drought we went through over a decade — mining or any other activity to threaten water  resources." He also stated that "... exploration licences have been granted, in some cases permission to mine has been granted, in areas, frankly, that should never ever have been on the list."

Now it seems no such ban is envisaged. The degradation of the Special Areas - and outer catchments - is set to worsen.

How can this be ?

The Future:  None Dare Call it Conspiracy


Dr Peter Turner, from the Save Our  Water Catchment Areas campaign, wrote in a recent submission that the door is now open to "a complete CSG industrialisation of the catchments."  This plus increasing drought due to global warming  puts Sydney's water supply in peril. And the population is expanding. What can the government be thinking ?


But - of course! - we now have the Sydney Desalination Plant (SDP) which can supply 20% of demand at present, and can be expanded to supply more if the catchment supply dwindles and/or becomes polluted.


The SDP cost the taxpayers around $2 billion, and this year was privatised by the O'Farrell government and sold to a consortium of mostly overseas interests, for an overall profit of $300,000,000. The Herald's business columnist Michael West commented that the sale "locked consumers into buying water they don't need for the next few decades" (SMH, 12.5.12).


However the SDP was shut down shortly after this, on 1 July 2012,  due to the period of heavy rain which filled the storage dams. The SDP input was not needed, and it will not be re-opened until dams are less than 70% full. This could take a few years.


However, surprisingly, the owners and operators still profit even when the plant is shut. They are paid "availability charges" of $591,000,000, for electricity, rates, depreciation, etc., by Sydney Water (the publicly owned supply corporation), plus fixed costs of $1,000,000 per month to be paid to Veolia, the French-based  water multinational which operates and maintains the plant for Sydney Water (SMH, 11.3.12). 


NSW Finance Minister Greg Pearce said that the shutdown "will save Sydney Water customers $50 million a year  ... [but] we're still paying $16 million a month" (ABC News, 26.6.12).


As the Greens spokesperson John Kaye remarked: "Households will be forced to fund the profits of a multinational corporation that supplies no water."


But the profits will soar when we enter predicted drought periods again and the SDP then operates at full capacity. The water can be produced for around 62 cents kL and sold to customers for over $2 kL.


The collapse of catchment supply fits nicely into this scenario - the less water coming from the storage dams, the more will be needed from the SDP. Households may pay around $700 p.a. more for their water, according to Professor Grafton, environmental economist from ANU (ABC News, 18.7.08).  The profits through running down the catchment supply look enticing.


Lest we seem unduly cynical, we are taking our cue from Maude Barlow, Canadian water expert and author, and now a water advisor to the UN. Rivers SOS hosted a meeting with Maude Barlow in 2008, when she was in Sydney for the launch of her latest book  entitled Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water  ( Black Inc., 2007).


 She wrote and spoke of the appalling record of water privatisation: ".... twenty years of documented cases ... have revealed a legacy of corruption, sky-high water rates, cutoffs of water to millions, reduced water quality, nepotism, pollution, worker layoffs and broken promises ......In fact, to stay competitive, water companies are relying on deteriorating water quality around the world ...It is to the distinct advantage of the private water industry that the world's freshwater supplies are being polluted and destroyed." 


 Veolia, now operating our SDP,  was one of the main culprits mentioned by Barlow - a transnational water service company making huge profits, with revenues up from $US5 billion a decade ago to $US34 billion by 2007. Veolia and the other large water company, Suez , control nearly 50% of the rapidly growing global private water services sector. She writes that Veolia, Suez and other large water companies are setting the stage "for the creation of a global corporate-owned water cartel"  where, in the worst cases, only the rich will be able to afford water.


The water industry has become powerful at lobbying and influencing governments on water policy, and in donating large amounts to political parties and candidates. But Barlow goes on to list a number of cases where citizens fiercely resisted them, for good reason. To cite just one case, involving Veolia:  "New Orleans, Louisiana, dropped its $US1.5 billion contract with Suez and Veolia in 2004 after five years and almost $6 million in unexpected expenses. The companies were baulking at new laws giving the voters the right to approve or deny such contracts."  


But in NSW the water future looks grim for ordinary households.


Barlow told us that she was sorry that Australia voted against a UN resolution to make clean water a universal human right. We may live to regret this.



Caroline Graham

Southern Coalfield Representative, Rivers SOS

 ph: 46309421  m 0409447913 


Admin | SHCAG - Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The O'Farrell Government yesterday opened the floodgates to coal seam gas mining in NSW with Minister for Resources Chris Hartcher moving to renew 22 coal seam gas exploration licences including many of the most controversial and hotly contested titles in NSW.

The full list of renewals is available here  

"Barry O'Farrell has let the Energy Minister off the leash and in one fell swoop he has opened the door to coal seam gas drilling across vast areas which include some of our most iconic landscapes" said Drew Hutton, President of Lock the Gate Alliance.

"This is a dark day for NSW and communities from all around the state have every right to feel they have been deceived by a Government that promised the world and has delivered nothing.

"City and country people alike have been treated with contempt and their concerns about the protection of land and water over-ruled with the renewal of 22 drilling licences covering approximately 5 million hectares of land" he said.

"The Minister has renewed the Apex Energy licence (PEL 444) in the Sydney drinking water catchment, putting at risk water supplies for 4.2 million people and breaking a cast-iron guarantee made by the Premier before the last election" said Carmel Flint, campaign co-ordinator with Lock the Gate Alliance.

"The Santos licence in the Pilliga Forest (PEL 238) has been renewed despite the fact that it is still under investigation for a litany of environmental failures including contamination of soils and pollution of water.

"The fertile black soil plains of Bellata, near Moree, are not safe either with PEL 470 renewed despite all 84 landholders in the area joining together and submitting a detailed objection which exposed numerous breaches of conditions and showed these rich vertosol soils were no place for a gas field.

"In the Northern Rivers, the people of this beautiful region who voted 87% 'NO' to coal seam gas in a council poll on Sunday, are now faced with renewal of two Metgasco licences (PEL 13 & 16) that threaten long-term sustainable industries like farming and tourism.

"The brave people of Fullerton Cove have not been spared either, with PEL 458 renewed despite several major non-compliances with environmental conditions, a current legal challenge and entrenched opposition from the wider Newcastle area to drilling in their water supply" she said.

Information or comment:

Drew Hutton 0428 487110, Carmel Flint 0400 521474

The risks of investing in CSG shares

Admin | SHCAG - Wednesday, September 05, 2012
The risks of investing in CSG shares

Now on Facebook for more Exposure!

Admin | SHCAG - Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Please "Like" us in Facebook so we can get the message out to more concerned Southern Highlanders.

If you are not on Facebook yet - "Be like Pete" and just register on Facebook with your name and nothing else will be known as you can make everything but your name "private"


Join up and Let's Go Viral on Coal Mining !

ABC 730 Report on Southern Highlands Mining

Admin | SHCAG - Saturday, November 05, 2011

Attached are extracts from yesterday’s 7:30 Report on the Coal and Gas Mining issues in the Southern Highlands.
Come to our OUR LAND, OUR WATER, OUR FUTURE Rally in Corbett Gardens, Bowral on Saturday, November 19 at 11am to hear more about the way insidious mining practices are creeping across our beautiful country and could affect YOU in the Southern Highlands. Alan Jones will MC and we will have a raft of distinguished speakers from around the country.

The Inherent Risks Of Coal Mining To The Environment

Admin | SHCAG - Wednesday, November 02, 2011

“The inherent risks of coal mining to the environment are well known. Evidence now points to the high price that coal workers, their families and the communities they live in are paying in health costs, not to mention the government’s health budget. Nyema hermiston investigates…”

For the rest of the article please follow the link below.

Your Times 200911

Fin Review: Why CSG needs better regulation

Admin | SHCAG - Monday, September 26, 2011

An excellent analysis on CSG