Farmers of the Yarramalong Valleys deserve the same protection as those of the Liverpool Plains

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Headline: August 2016, ‘the NSW Government to buy back the Caroona coal mine exploration license from BHP, at a cost of $220 million, to protect the aquifers and farmland of the Liverpool plains’.

Headline: July 2017, the NSW Government to buy back 51 per cent of the Watermark coal mining license from Shenhua, at a cost of $262 million, to protect the water aquifers and farmland of the Liverpool Plains. Headline: November 2017, the Wallarah 2 PAC recommends against the development of a coal mine under the Central Coast Water Catchment, to protect the Central Coast water supply, aquifers, water resources and farmland of the Dooralong and Yarramalong Valleys. I am a Yarramalong Valley turf farmer and irrigator, and I speak on behalf of the irrigators and turf farmers of the Yarramalong and Dooralong Valleys. Our very livelihoods depend on the water fl owing down Jilliby Creek and Wyong River. No water, no turf farming. No water and we are out of business. We have just been through a four-month period where we depended totally on these water resources for our livelihoods. Surely the potential loss of irrigation water alone is too high a price to pay for this coal mine. While the last headline was fi ctional, I am sure the NSW Government is hoping this PAC will recommend against the Wallarah 2 Coal Mine proceeding. An adverse recommendation would ensure the death of a coal mine that has dogged the community, and both Liberal and Labor Governments, over a period of more than two decades. In July 2017, globallyrenowned resource analytics fi rm, Wood Mackenzie, conducted research for The Infrastructure Fund, forecasting massive reductions in future coal output from NSW Hunter Valley mines if the Galilee Basin was developed. One of the affected mines would be Wallarah 2. The research found that the Galilee expansion is forecast to lower coal output from the Hunter Valley by nearly 40 per cent in 2035. This research puts an end to any hope KORES has of a profi table mine, as the Galilee development is underway. I believe that there is a signifi cant health risk due to the stress residents may suffer over the mine life. Many farms and homes will be subsided, some into the 1:100 year fl ood contour, with homes damaged and farms rendered useless due to fl ood impacts which will last longer and will be more frequent than is currently the case. I understand that the incidences of asthma and other respiratory diseases in the Wyong area are already well above state norms, without the impact of coal dust being heaped on the residents of Blue Haven, the future suburb on Darkinjung land, and every suburb on the rail route between Wyong and the coal loaders in Newcastle. The proposed coal rail loading facility adjacent to the Sydney to Newcastle rail line, Blue Haven and the proposed Darkinjung housing development is not acceptable on health or aesthetic grounds. The proposed mine is not compatible with the Central Coast Regional Plan. The plan says that the NSW Government will work with Councils to protect productive land and resources from incompatible development, recognise and protect the economic potential of productive agricultural land, sustainably manage surface water and groundwater, and minimise the effects of development on waterways to meet Water Quality and River Flow objectives. The Regional Plan objectives are incompatible with a coal mine that subsides productive farmland, rendering it fl ood prone, and fractures aquifers, risking water supplies and river contamination. The precedents and reasons for refusing Wallarah 2 are there for all to see in the form of the NSW Government buying back the BHP Caroona and Shenhua Watermark mining licenses on the Liverpool Plains. The basis of these buy backs is the necessity to protect the farming areas and aquifers of the Liverpool Plains. The water catchment and aquifers of the Central Coast and the farmers and farms of the Dooralong and Yarramalong Valleys deserve the same protection as those of the Liverpool Plains. The circumstances are identical for all three mines, with Wallarah 2 also impacting the Central Coast drinking water supply, and its coal handling infrastructure to impact severely on densely populated residential areas. I request that the Wallarah 2 mine application be refused.

Email, Nov 3 Laurie Eyes, Wyong Creek

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