Letter to the Editor AFR 14.3.2013

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Dear Editor;

In response to Whitehaven’s outgoing CEO, Tony Heggarty, I would like to make it clear that the local community is very concerned about open cut mining in the Leard State Forest and its surrounds.

The mines in the area will create 18,000 tonnes of dust that will fallout over the surrounding community. And according to the independent Namoi Catchment Water Study the opencut pits will reduce the alluvial groundwater aquifers by 5 meters which will severely affect our stock and domestic water supplies, particularly in drought. Purchases of 34 local properties by the miners is depopulating our community and the clearing of 4000 Ha or more of Native Forest will greatly affect our environment.

The few properties in the district that are selling are devalued or being purchased by the miners at a time of their choosing. Residents who need to retire, expand or move away have their lives on hold. Crops have been washed away due to re-directed surface water flows.

None of this is pretty and such impacts were not a factor before coal came to the area.

When Whitehaven’s Maules Creek Project was first muted some time ago we told the miners that we could support underground mines due to the reduced impact on local people and for the jobs and the economic activity that it could bring. However this was not to be and we are now left with no alternative but to fight for our community.

This is not a battle that a small rural community can win on its own and we wholeheartedly welcome like minded souls to our district to lend support.

Australia is more than huge open cut mines, overburden dumps and the FIFO jobs that it brings. Many Australians are hearing the “Call to Country” from Lock the Gate and others. To the Tony Heggarty’s of the world I say “We are resolute and this is only the beginning”.

Phil Laird