After more than a decade of campaigning, Traditional Custodians, farmers and environmentalists are celebrating the preservation of rich farming plains from a coal corporation, writes Margaret Gleeson.
Shenhua Watermark Coal Mine
Gomeroi Traditional Custodians, who lost a bid to protect a sacred site from being destroyed for the Shenhua Watermark coal mine in north-west New South Wales, have lodged a new application to protect country, reports Margaret Gleeson.
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.