Lock the Gate Alliance

The campaigning efforts of local farmers and environmentalists were rewarded on September 18 when the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) rejected South Korean company Kepco’s bid to build a new thermal coalmine in the Bylong Valley, near Mudgee, in central NSW.

Lock the Gate Alliance has warned that a recently announced federal government review of current mining assessment regulation will further reduce regional communities’ ability to fight inappropriate and unwanted resource exploitation.

Federal resources minister Matt Canavan announced at the NSW Minerals Council conference on August 5 that the government had asked the Productivity Commission to hold a 12-month review into what he thinks is the over-regulation of the resources sector.

Protesters gathered outside the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) on July 16 to urge it and the Coalition state government to save the precious Bylong Valley, in Central West NSW, from a new thermal coalmine.

South Korean company KEPCO is proposing to open up a mine that would have drastic impacts on local agriculture and water and the iconic natural and cultural heritage of the region, including Aboriginal sacred sites.

A WaterNSW submission to the ongoing Independent Expert Panel into Mining in Sydney’s Catchment has highlighted the destructive impact coal mining is having on the Sydney Water Catchment Area.

It called for curbs on two big coal mines in Sydney's catchment, saying millions of litres of water are being lost daily and environmental impacts are likely breaching approval conditions.

Just days after Queensland Liberal National Party Senator James McGrath reportedly threatened to call for the sacking of federal environment minister Melissa Price if she did not grant approval for Adani’s proposed coalmine, the Indian mining giant’s groundwater management plan was approved on April 9.

Protesters rallied outside an October 7 NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) public hearing in Mudgee into plans to construct a huge new coalmine in the picturesque Bylong Valley, north-east of the regional town.

The Ngara Institute’s annual Activist of the Year award was shared by the Knitting Nannas Against Gas, whose creative and persistent nonviolent strategies have been so important at blockades and protests, and Annie Kia, who developed the hugely successful “neighbour to neighbour” community engagement process for Lock the Gate.

The award was presented on June 30 at Ngara’s annual lecture in Mullumbimby, presented by former Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs.

An open letter from eight former agronomists and soil scientists, including five who worked for the Department of Primary Industries, has urged NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to halt Shenhua’s Watermark coalmine and protect the Liverpool Plains from mining.

The letter said the agreement the government reached last month with Shenhua to renew its coal exploration licence, paving the way for the mine to proceed, puts at risk “the future of one of the major contributors to food and fibre security”.

Liverpool Plains farmers have reacted angrily to NSW resources minister Don Harwin’s announcement on July 12 that it will buy back only half of the Shenhua coal exploration licence covering the Liverpool Plains. This means that the government is allowing an open-cut coalmine in NSW’s food bowl.

The NSW government will pay $262 million to buy back 51% of Shehua’s exploration licence. However, as eight years have passed without the coal giant starting “substantial development”, the government could simply cancel its exploration licence without compensation.

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