Thursday, June 07, 2007

Massive Anvil Hill coal mine approved by NSW Government

June 7, 2007: Despite ongoing community protests, the NSW Government has approved the controversial Anvil Hill coal mine development in the Hunter Valley.

NSW Planning Minister, Frank Sartor, says he made the decision after 10 months of assessment. He says the total value of the coal reserve at the site is estimated to be about $9 billion. "It was time to resolve the issues and give certainty to land owners and other potentially affected by the mine," said Mr Sartor. But environmentalists say the decision shows that the coal industry is in the climate change policy driving seat...

The Anvil Hill coal mine at Wybong, about 20km west of Muswellbrook, is expected to produce up to 10.5 million tonnes of coal a year over 21 years for the domestic and export markets. It will have a capital investment of about $240 million and will support about 250 construction jobs and about 240 operational jobs.

Minister Sartor says 84 "strict conditions" had been imposed on the mine to deal with dust and noise issues.

Rising Tide Newcastle say the area is home to at least 178 animal species, including 4 threatened bat species, the squirrel glider, the koala, 14 threatened bird species and many more protected under international covenant. It is also home to at least 420 species of native flora, many of which are threatened and 3 of which are endemic to the area, including one newly discovered species of orchid found only at this site.

"This mine would have massive impacts on threatened species in the Hunter Valley, destroying one of the largest tracts of bushland remaining in the region," say RisingTide. "It would destroy a large area of water catchment for the already stressed Hunter River. The 10 million tonnes of coal from Anvil Hill will wreak irreparable damage on the global climate, tipping the planet further towards dangerous, runaway climate change. In the face of such massive impacts, the Iemma government still couldn't find the guts to say no to the coal lobby."

Greens MP Lee Rhiannon says the decision is a disaster and shows the NSW Government is not serious about climate change. "The Anvil Hill coal mine will add enormously to the climate change burden," he said. "Today's decision is a sell-out, not just of proper measures to deal with climate change, but is also of the Hunter community."

Senator Kerry Nettle also condemned the federal and state governments for the decision to approve the giant Anvil Hill coal mine. "The federal government is responsible for this mine as much as the state Labor government. The federal Environment Minister failed to even assess the impact on climate change of this mine," said Senator Nettle.

"The federal government and federal Labor support the expansion of the coal industry. Neither can be taken seriously on climate change if they agree to the expansion of the coal mining industry. The approval highlights the shocking inadequacy of the federal government and federal Labor climate change policies. You can't reduce greenhouse gas emissions by supporting a new coal mine that will produce 27 million tonnes of CO2 each year. The approval of this massive coal mine shows both Labor and Liberal's polices on climate change are worthless."

The approval of the new coal mine is sparking outrage. Greenpeace head of campaigns Stephen Campbell said: "The planning process is a farce. The Department of Planning has ignored advice on the environmental and climate impacts of this mine and ‘rubber stamped’ it... This is an absolute disaster for Hunter communities and for the climate."

About 500 environmentalists protested at the site last weekend, standing in formation to spell out Save Anvil Hill. The protest against the Hunter Valley coal mine has shown people from all walks of life, and not just "environmental jihadists", are worried about climate change.

Greenpeace campaign manager Stephen Campbell said about 500 people made the journey from around the state to show their commitment to dealing with climate change and opposition to new coal mines. "You've got people you'd expect to see at protests, like students and the Greens, but there's other people here who are associated with the mining industry, people who are associated with the horse and wine industry - not the kind of people who normally come to a rally such as this and they came today."

Mr Campbell said such diverse community representation demonstrated how deep and widespread concern about the expansion of the coal industry was. "The coal industry, the Labor party and others try to portray anyone who is opposed to the coal industry as some sort of mad man or environmental jihadist, and what we're showing is that is simply not the case," he said. "People from all over NSW are very concerned about the expansion of the coal industry, they're concerned about the local, social and environmental impacts.

Greenpeace spokesman Ben Pearson said: "People have had enough of new coal mines," Mr Pearson said. "They're ripping up the Hunter Valley. They're contributing to climate change. We know how great the threat of climate change is, but frankly if we're serious about climate change how can we justify opening massive new coal mines?"

NQ Register
Daily Telegraph
Sydney Morning Herald
Rising Tide
Peace Bus
Rising Tide: Media Release

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