Put community health ahead of coal & CSG mining, says Gloucester conference

Organisers of the Groundswell Gloucester conference released the statement below on October 29.

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More than 100 delegates from coal and coal seam gas (CSG) affected communities across NSW have called “Groundswell Gloucester”, the inaugural NSW Coal and CSG Community Conference, a resounding success.

Delegates represented groups from as far afield as the Northern Rivers, the Liverpool Plains, the Hunter Valley, metropolitan Sydney and the NSW Southern Highlands.

Federal Member for Lynne Rob Oakeshott and NSW Farmers President Fiona Simson both took time out of a busy schedule and travelled a long way to present to delegates and this was deeply appreciated.

Conference convenor Julie Lyford said: “Delegates unanimously rejected the NSW government’s Strategic Regional Land Use Policy because it completely fails to protect any land or any communities from the prospect of being mined. People are determined to continue to fight to protect their communities.

The aim is to foster a year of coordinated community action to oppose coal and CSG expansion. There will be smaller, more directed meetings to further develop and implement action plans to achieve these objectives.

“Local, regional and state-wide actions will be taken. This year of action will culminate in the 2nd NSW Coal and CSG Community Conference next October to be hosted by the Southern Highlands Coal Action Group.”

Conference delegates unanimously supported the following statement.

The inaugural NSW Coal and CSG Community Conference, with representation from coal and CSG affected communities across the state, commits to working together to share knowledge, build skills and coordinate campaign efforts to protect productive agricultural land, water supplies and river systems, clean air and community health, and our precious environmental areas.

The conference rejects the government’s Strategic Regional Land Use Policy for the reasons that it:

• fails to rule out coal and CSG in our productive agricultural and sensitive environmental areas;
• fails to implement an aquifer interference regulation to guarantee protection of the state’s groundwater systems;
• has no mechanism for rejecting coal and gas proposals in inappropriate areas.

The conference calls on the government to implement policies that:

• put community health ahead of the interests of the coal and CSG industries:
• rule out mining in productive agricultural areas, sensitive environmental areas, urban • areas and drinking water catchments;
• respect our Aboriginal and European heritage;
• protect ground and surface water systems;
• empower local communities to be able determine their own economic future to veto coal mining and CSG extraction.

The conference commits to continue working together to protect our communities and the places we love and to press for these policy changes through community organising and direct action such as locking the gate if the NSW government fails to protect the public interest.

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