Council and politicians express concern over water supply

Aerial view of the proposed Wallarah 2 coal project

Central Coast Council has expressed its disappointment that the NSW Planning Assessment Commission has recommended approval of the Wallarah 2 longwall coal mine.
Former and current MPs are joining the debate and our elected Councillors are beginning to express their views.
A community meeting has been convened for Saturday, January 26, at the Ourimbah RSL, from 10:00am.
It will be chaired by Dr Van Davy from Community Plan Central Coast and keynote speakers will be Mr Alan Hayes and Mr Mike Campbell from the Australian Coal Alliance.
The Wyong Regional Chronicle has requested comment from Mayor Jane Smith and all Central Coast Councillors.
“Council remains opposed to the mine and believes the mine poses significant environmental risks, including impacts on the Coast’s water supply, due to the works being within the Central Coast drinking water catchment,” a written statement from Council said.
“Council is closely and urgently reviewing the conditional consent and reasons issued by the Commission, and will make further comment once the review is complete,” it said.
Independent Councillor Greg Best said: “I have campaigned against further coal mining on the Coast particularly after what happened in our north at places like Buff Point, Mannering Park and not to mention the Coolongah Wetlands that sunk due to underground ‘pillar robbing’.
“I moved my first motion against mining in 1996 only to be howled down by the then pro-mining Council,” Clr Best said.
“I couldn’t even get permission for the then Peck Community Mining Group ‘Mine Spot’ to be able to address Council.
“Fast forward 10 years and a lot of angry ratepayers, to 2006 when the Council vote was unanimous against further mining and has been ever since.
“It’s a bit weak and the time has now past for political finger pointing as the simple facts are both sides of politics could have stopped this Mine.
“They are addicted to the hundreds of million of dollars of Government revenue that this black gold will deliver into their coffers.
“So clearly there is no political will, making any appeal in my view just a ‘grandstanding’ finger point waste of ratepayer funds and time.
“It is what it is and we had better get our heads together around making sure the all-important conditions of consent are complied with, to the letter.
“There will be hundreds of jobs but again we need to work with the mine to make sure they are ‘local jobs” Clr Best said.
State Member for Gosford, Ms Liesl Tesch, said: “We must protect our water supply and continue to fight against the mine.
“Our community stopped the Liberals privatising Wyong Hospital and I know they are ready to fight to keep our water safe,” Ms Tesch said.
“Central Coast residents have made their views on this very clear and the Liberal Government promised to stop the mine.
“Well the Premier still can.
“I call on the Premier to stand up for our community and stop the mine now.”
Federal Member for Dobell, Ms Emma McBride, said her position had not changed since she made her submission to the PAC review.
“I first became aware of the project, and the risks associated with it, during my tenure on Wyong Council.
“I opposed the first development application, as did my colleagues at the Council.
“I continue to oppose this development in its current form as it is my opinion that the possible impact of the mine on the ground and surface water supply remains unacceptable,” she said.
Ms Lucy Wicks, Federal Member for Robertson, said: “I share the concerns of our community regarding any project that is scientifically proven to be detrimental to the drinking water supply on the Central Coast.
“The process regarding evidence, approvals and reviews of the Wallarah 2 mine is a matter for the NSW Government,” Ms Wicks said.
Mr Malcolm Brooks, former Liberal MP and Gosford Mayor said he challenged the Minister for Planning, Mr Anthony Roberts, to refuse the mine.
“After all, this is his government’s policy … and I know Mr Roberts as a man of integrity.
“The previous Labor Government, under Minister Tony Kelly, refused an application on March 21, 2011.
“Nothing has changed except a new application, a change of Government and an ICAC enquiry,” Mr Brooks said.
“A decision to approve the mine will have a serious impact on our water catchment, agriculture, environment and quality of life.
“The Central Coast system has three dams, three weirs, three water treatment plants, over 50 reservoirs, and more than 2,000 kilometres of pipeline.
“Although the Central Coast is only a minor food producing area it is an essential quality productive region.
“Rural land is precious; we can’t manufacture any more of it.
“There are 65 chicken farms, cattle and beef producers, citrus, avocados, vegetables, cut flowers, fresh spring water bottling facilities, and a fresh fruit juice factory.
“Water is the lifeblood to agricultural farming.
“The coal mine operating 24 hours a day, over 28 years, extracting 5 million tonnes of coal each year, could put our clean drinking water at risk.
“Underground long wall mining is generally 150 – 350 metres deep in NSW and Queensland. “However, I believe greater depths apply in the Hunter Valley,” Mr Brooks said.
“The applicant agrees subsidence can happen – maybe two metres or even greater.
“This can interfere with water flows and aquifers, with possible toxic chemicals entering our catchment waters causing serious impacts on agricultural production, domestic water use and fresh water drinking consumption.
“Martin Krogh of Environmental Data Analysis Pty Ltd, argues strongly in a submission to NSW Planning that there is sufficient overseas evidence of the impact of long wall mining.”
Mr Brooks concluded that contamination of the Coast’s water supply was a possibility and that the health of the community should be more important than mining coal.
“What price the health of our community?
“To me it is top of the list, not coal.
“With a population of 350,000 plus and growing, our present catchment area and dams, are our only supply.
“From my 40 odd years in public life, my Australia wide travel, both by land and air, as well as extensive overseas trips, I firmly believe that mining should be prohibited in water catchment areas and prime agricultural land.
“As human beings, coal does not sustain us, water and food do and without them, we don’t exist,” Mr Brooks concluded.

Media statement, Jan 19
Heather Robinson, office of Emma McBride
Media statement, Jan 19
Tim Sowden, office of Lucy Wicks
Media statement, Jan 18
Central Coast Council media
Media release, Jan 20
Malcolm Brooks, Gosford
Media statement, Jan 20
Greg Best, Central Coast Council

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