EPA decision delayed on Margaret River coal mine

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has delayed its decision on the controversial new coalmine proposed for Margaret River in Western Australia.

The EPA decision was expected early January. Yet it has chosen to give the mining company LD Operations more time to provide more information. The EPA chairperson is now expected to make a decision at the end of February.

This has angered Margaret River residents campaigning against the mine. Many residents feel that the proposal to mine for coal 15 kilometres from Margaret River is so destructive that this alone is enough to declare the proposal unacceptable.

Some locals are also angry the mining company has been given more time, when residents were allowed only one week to send in their submissions. In that week, more than 750 submissions were made.

The EPA’s system was unable to cope with this unexpected number of submissions, and so the submissions period was extended an extra week.

Many of the submissions detail farmers’ concerns with the coalmine’s effect on the water supply. One submission said:

“We are also aware that by its nature coal mining in particular, even underground, is a dirty, effluent producing, toxic enterprise that uses an enormous amount of water during extraction and cleaning. Once established, such projects seem to morph into the only business in town.

“Such a business is not compatible with the existing local businesses of agriculture, viticulture and tourism, and where it co-exists in other parts of this country it does not do so happily.”

The campaign against the coalmine is still going strong. Margaret River artists and school children recently painted a long mural along the main street of the town, emblazoned with the slogan “Margaret River: Too Beautiful to Undermine”.

The mural is made up of 29 panels and features images of the natural beauty of Margaret River, valued by residents and tourists. It also has information about the proposed coalmine.

The campaign group NO COAL!tion is planning a fundraiser for March 5 at the Xanadu Winery. For details email info@nocoalitionmargaretriver.com.