Anti-mining activists protest in Sydney

Heavy rain didn’t stop over 1000 anti-coal mining and coal seam gas activists from around New South Wales have holding a protest in Sydney yesterday.

Among the protesters, who are urging the state government and opposition to introduce stricter controls on the industry were farmers and environmental groups.

Dozens of protestors arrived on buses from the Hunter Valley and mid-north coast.

The protest, held by the Nature Conservation Council, included a rally at Martin Place and called for a moratorium on all new coal seam gas projects until more research is done.

Last week, Premier Kristina Keneally announced restrictions on where miners can explore and how the gas can be extracted while speaking in the Hunter Valley.

She announced Labor policy would prohibit exploration near national parks and ban the use of toxic BTEX chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing process, otherwise known as fraccing.

Labor unveiled a ten point coal and coal seam gas plan which said the use of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes would be banned across New South Wales, following in the footsteps of the Queensland government who banned BTEX fraccing late last year.

Chief executive of the Nature Conservation Council, Pepe Clarke told the ABC that the New South Wales’ government and opposition have left it too late to properly deal with mining policy and while Independent and Greens candidates addressed the crowd, the two major political parties failed to show up.

"The policies announced by Labor and the Coalition are both important signs of progress," he said.
"In the case of the Labor policy, they have had 16 years to deal with these problems and to announce proposed changes in policy just days before the election, really for most mine affected communities, is too little too late."
According to the organisers, the number of people that attended the protest indicated the amount of concern about the potential impacts of mining and coal seam gas in the state and mining policies of both the Coalition and the government must be led by public consultation.

"Both of the major parties have indicated that the strategic planning process is needed to determine which areas might be excluded from mining and gas activities,” Clarke said.
"But, a strategic planning process ultimately is only as good as the strategic plan that you get at the end.
"So, there’s a very real need for people with concerns about these issues to stay involved in the process."

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