Around 1000 people gathered in Gunnedah at the weekend to protest against increased mining activity in the region.
Shenhua’s plans to build the Watermark coal mine near Breeza, as well as several CSG exploration licences in the area have angered many locals concerned about affects to water supplies and agriculture.
The Watermark project was approved by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission on January 30, but has since been halted by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt who referred the project to the Independent Expert Scientific Panel (IESC) for a review.
North-west co-ordinator for Lock the Gate Megan Kuhn said locals were committed to stopping mining activity in the region.
“People in the north-west of NSW emphatically reject the threat of coal seam gas to their homes, families and communities,” Kuhn said.
“We are sick of having unwanted coal and coal seam gas mining projects forced upon us.”
On Sunday the rally heard from Golden Guitar winner Luke O’Shea, who was recently arrested for his part in a protest at Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek mine.
Indigenous elders and farmers also spoke to the crowd about their concerns around the increase of projects in the region.
Landholder Andrew Pursehouse said people did not want to see a “mini Hunter Valley appearing between here and Breeza”.
“Imagine the dust that is going to fall on all our crops, our produce and our livestock,” Pursehouse said.
“Plenty of people will say we need the jobs, and they are dead right.
“But it’s a very short-term issue. What we need to think about is our children and their children.”
Gunnedah Shire Council mayor Owen Hasler was present at the event and said he was interested in what locals had to say.
“I wanted to see who turned up and to familiarise myself with the groups that were participating, and to hear what they had to say,” Hasler said.