About 500 locals gathered on October 26 to protest the New South Wales government’s approval of the Wallarah 2 longwall coal mine.
The protest was convened by the Coast Environmental Alliance, with the support of other groups, and was addressed by, among others, Murawari and Budjiti man and Water for Rivers activist Bruce Shillingsworth, Coast Environmental Alliance (CEA) organiser Emma French, Australian Coal Alliance (ACA) spokesperson Alan Hayes, Lock the Gate’s Paul Robert Burton and NSW Greens MLC Abigail Boyd.
The local community, with the support of local Labor councillors and MPs, have been fighting against the proposed coal mine in the Dooralong and Yarramalong valleys for more than 20 years. The area is an important part of the drinking water catchment that supplies more than 300,000 people. The Wallarah 2 coal mine threatens to pollute local waterways and take millions of litres of water out of the catchment each year.
Wyong Coal, which is behind the project, is majority owned by Korea Resource Corporation, the mining arm of South Korea’s government.
The NSW Coalition initially opposed the project in 2009, while it was in opposition. The NSW Labor government rejected it in March 2011. But a subsequent NSW Coalition government overturned that decision in February 2014.
In April last year, the Environmental Defenders Office NSW filed an action on behalf of ACA in the NSW Land and Environment Court against the decision to allow the mine project to go ahead. A hearing was held last November, but the court decided to set aside its final decision.
During the March state election campaign, NSW Labor and NSW Greens stated they were committed to reversing the Coalition’s approval of the mine. But, just hours before polling booths opened, the NSW Land and Environment Court announced it was dismissing ACA’s case.
The community campaign against Wallarah 2, however, has continued.
The CEA held a rally in July, which was attended by more than 200 people. It has also embarked on an education campaign to raise awareness of the issue.
French told the rally: “We want to raise awareness of this coal mine that is only 5 minutes away from Wyong and 20 minutes from Gosford, and will create 28 years of non-stop destruction of our land, our air, our water and our children’s futures”.
The NSW Greens have introduced a bill to repeal the existing approval, which will be discussed in parliament on November 21.
[A rally against Wallarah 2 is planned for outside state parliament on November 21.]