Saturday, February 19, 2011

A worthy read

I don't normally talk political stuff, but this is an issue that is close to me as it is affecting a very, very dear friend of mine. And truthfully it affects all of us in Australia because if you want food to eat, we need land to grow it and clean water.

So here is the email that my friend, Carolyn, has asked me to share.

Dear Friends,

As you would know, I am not normally one for all out broadcast emails. However, this issue is so important to me not just on a personal level because we are so intricately involved, but also on moral, ethical, social and environmental grounds.

As you know, we purchased 170 acres of land at Ilford (halfway between Lithgow and Mudgee) about 6 years ago. A beautiful rural bush property with nice neighbours, stunning views of the surrounding countryside and mountain ranges, and abundant wildlife – a great place to relax and enjoy life with our family and friends. About 18 months ago we started to build a modest house to use as a weekender initially, but with plans to more than likely retire there in the distant future.

About 12 months ago, our tranquil bush existence was ripped away from us when we were told by our neighbours that the state government had granted a mining exploration license covering our area to a company named Centennial Coal. In August of last year we were advised (again by our neighbours) that the next door property (Mount Ilford Winery) had been sold to Centennial Coal. The information from the company about its intentions in our area, is vague to say the least. What has been said to our local action group is that the coal in our area is of very low quality, and that 95% is destined for overseas.

The coal seams in our area are apparently so close to the surface that open cut mining in some areas will definitely be the way that they will proceed for the old winery site. Our house is halfway to completion (almost at lockup) and our bedroom window will more than likely look out onto an open cut coal mine less than 300m from the house!!! To this day we have had no communication from Centennial Coal!!!

How is it possible that if my next door neighbour here in Sydney wishes to erect a pergola, everyone within the immediate area is advised and asked for input. Yet if my next door neighbour at Ilford wants to establish an open cut mine, no communication at all is needed ????? [Note: The length of time that is given to receive, read, digest, prepare and submit objections to that pergola are the same for the coal mine (just 4 weeks)].

The proposed mine (old winery) site has a creek running through it which flows to more than 100 small farms in our area – they rely on this water. Most of the flow from this creek ultimately ends up as part of the Murray-Darling River. If the mine proceeds this water will be hideously contaminated with a toxic cocktail that is the by-product of coal mining, and/or the water will just stop flowing – I’m not sure which will have the worst effect. Air quality in the surrounding area will be significantly impacted as dust from the mine (heavily laden with varying levels of nitrous oxide, heavy metals including lead and uranium, plus arsenic, cadmium and other toxic chemicals) is spread through the air. Its effect is compounded by many residents' reliance on tank water.

This is not just an issue for us and our little property – this is a very serious issue that is affecting vast tracks and fertile farmland right across (mainly) NSW and Queensland.

For your information, I am providing for you a couple of recent articles from the Sydney Morning Herald:

1. “Food security outranks mining in land use policy”

The Running Stream area referred to in this article is the proposed mine next door to our farm at Ilford, near Mudgee !!!!! The Bylong Valley area referred to in this article is owned by “Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid” and there is an article in today’s SMH regarding this property, and I quote:

Mr Obeid, who was once the minerals minister, told the Herald last year that he planned to retire to the magnificent Cherrydale Park, a rural property in the Bylong Valley, near Mudgee, which his family bought three years ago. The Obeid family may be in for a windfall with Cascade Coal about to pay a handsome price for the farm to mine for coal.

2. “Obeid joins the jetty set”

Hmmmm.....this is such a dirty, dirty business in all senses. The community has to know that this is going on!! Our current and future food and water resources are at serious risk, and the decisions that are being made are by those with direct financial links to these projects.

3. “Planning for food or coal”

Following is a link to the Sydney Morning Herald’s property blog from last week.

ABC Four Corners “The Gas Rush” Monday 21 February 8.30pm ABC1

The upcoming ABC Four Corners program on this Monday night will investigate the issue of gas coal seam mining, a potentially more serious issue that is set to devastate our country if allowed to proceed.

Right across Australia gas companies are drilling down through the earth to extract the resource that the industry says will be one of the answers to our future energy needs. Already some $31 billion worth of gas projects have been approved by the Federal Government, which are expected to generate thousands of jobs and billions in revenues. But this precious resource lies beneath homes and farms, and the food bowls of Australia. And this is where the gas companies are drilling; prompting a heated conflict over who should pay the price for our energy supplies.

The program shows local activists testing for leaks and finding highly explosive gasses leaking at alarming levels. Others talk of their fears that Australia's greatest underground water resource, the Great Artesian Basin will be contaminated and depleted. Four Corners details cases of water supplies being tainted by salty toxic water.

Many of those affected are beginning to work together on a national campaign to call a halt to "The Gas Rush".

Four Corners, presented by Kerry O'Brien, goes to air on Monday 21st February at 8.30pm on ABC 1. It is replayed on Tuesday 22nd February at 11.35 pm. You can also see the program on ABCNews24 at 8.00pm each Saturday, on ABC iview or on our website at Video on Demand.

Peter Cronau
Four Corners - ABC TV
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
GPO Box 9994, Sydney 2001, Australia
tel: (+61) 02 8333 4617
fax: (+61) 02 8333 4755

Free Screening of award winning documentary “Gasland” Saturday 5 March 1pm

And finally, the Ryde-Epping Greens are running a free screening of the award winning documentary “Gasland”. This film is a compelling story about gas coal seam mining and the devastating effects that it has on the environment and the community. This film has recently been awarded a Special Jury Prize for US Documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and is a 2011 Oscar Nominee for Best Documentary !!! For more information go to

The screening will take place on Saturday 5 March at 1pm at Boronia Grove, 49 Rawson St Epping (behind the Epping Club – access via Coles outdoor carpark). RSVP to or just turn up on the day (bring a friend).

Please help

I don’t normally send this type of email broadcast, and I don’t normally ask for help, but we need it now. Will you please send this information out to all of your contacts via Facebook and/or your email list.

Coal for 20 years or Food and Water for a Lifetime ?

Thanks for your help in getting the message out.

Kind regards,

Carolyn Ballard

I was going to blog about the awesome cinnamon rolls that I made today, but this was more important. I'll be back tomorrow with those.

1 comment:

Clodagh a.k.a. Isra said...

How awful for that community, seems absurd to have no communication a very dirty business.

Cinnamon rolls ... oh yummy!