The discovery of a significant koala population in close proximity to the proposed Wallarah 2 coal mine on the New South Wales Central Coast has given renewed vigour to a 20-year long community campaign against the mine.
Federal environment minister Sussan Ley announced on January 13 that koalas could be listed as endangered following the recent bushfires that devastated koala populations in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
However, there has been a rise in reported koala sightings in the Yarramalong and Dooralong valleys, adjacent to the proposed Wallarah 2 mine, where koalas have sought food, water and refuge from the Gospers Mountain fire that burned through Yengo and Wollemi national parks.
Unburned areas like this are key to the survival not just of the precious koala population but many other native species.
The Wallarah 2 coal mine was approved by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission in March 2018, despite conceding that it posed a real risk of serious and irreversible damage to the region’s water supply. It received federal approval in January last year.
The mine was then given the final go ahead in March, when the NSW Land and Environment Court dismissed a case lodged by Environmental Defenders Office NSW on behalf of Australian Coal Alliance (ACA) against the decision to allow it to go ahead.
A NSW Green bill to repeal the existing approval was voted down by the Coalition and Labor in NSW parliament on November 21.
Now, a petition has been launched calling on Ley and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to immediately withdraw all mining permits for Wallarah 2 and ensure the area is protected to help save the koala population.
[A silent protest will be held outside the office of local Central Coast MP Lucy Wicks on January 25, 9.30am.]