Panel raises concerns over future coal mining

14 September, 2011

Wingecarribee Shire Council’s newly formed Community Coal Reference Panel has raised concerns at its first meeting about the possible impacts any new mining activities may have on the Shire’s long-term sustainability.

“The panel was formed after Council unanimously formed a position of strong opposition to any expansion of new coal mining activities in the Shire,” said Chair of the Community Coal Reference Panel, Councillor Larry Whipper.

New mining activities include coal seam gas extraction and long wall coal mining.

“We are genuinely concerned with the potential impacts that this type of coal extraction method may have on our fragile environment.

“Potential risks include contamination of surface and groundwater, water availability, air quality and land use,” Councillor Whipper said.

“We also believe that such activities are at direct odds with the community’s vision as outlined in Wingecarribee 2031+, consequently, we’ve written to the NSW Legislative Council requesting them to place the environmental significance of our Shire ahead of any further coal mining activities.”

Councillor Whipper cited the benefits of working together with the panel and acknowledged the amount of work that had been contributed by both the community members and the council in preparing and presenting their concerns to the Legislative Council.

“There is no doubt that this partnership will increase the voice of opposition to any and all threats to our agricultural lands, groundwater and water catchment lands and let the government know that council and the community are united on this matter.”

In addition to Councillors Larry Whipper and Juliet Arkwright, the Community Coal Reference Panel includes Council’s Director of Environment and Planning and representatives from the Medway Groupand the Southern Highlands Coal Action Group.

“Whilst there are numerous viable alternate energy options for the State, the Community Coal Reference Panel believes there are very few alternate options with respect to Sydney’s drinking water quality.”