The Bylong Valley Protection Alliance (BVPA) and the Mid-Western Regional Council have joined forces, calling for a ban on coal and coal seam mining in the Bylong Valley area.
The BVPA’s submission to the Department of Planning on the NSW Coal and Gas Strategy has argued for the Greater Bylong Valley to be declared “prime agricultural land” and protected under the amendments to the Mining Act proposed by the Greens in 2009, which were defeated by one vote in the NSW Upper House.
BVPA interim secretary told the Mudgee Guardian high quality land needs to be protected.
“Just protecting the Liverpool Plains doesn’t do much to help ‘future proof’ food security,” he said.
“We need to be protecting, in advance, areas of innately good quality – such as the Bylong Valley – where production would be able to be increased dramatically in years to come as food demand rises.”
The Alliance wants stronger protection for rivers and streams near mining developments, particularly near national parks.
Mining on and around national parks has been a contentious issue lately and was a key issue in the New South Wales state election.
NSW Labor promised a ban on exploration in waterways next to national parks and remove exploration licences on waterways close to national parks, and the BVPA is not urging the O’Farrell government to adopt the policies.
It also wants changes to current guidelines about how close mine developments can be to streams, and has noted in its submission that mining has resulted in a “decimation of Wollar” and other villages.
“In our submission we have noted, as a particular example, the impact on Rural Fire Service brigades and the resulting increase in risks associated with bushfires through lack of adequate manpower and equipment,” Shaw said.
“A strategy is required to maintain or improve fire fighting capacity, rather than see it eroded.”
The BVPA has supported the Mid-Western Regional Council’s submission to the scoping paper.
“Council has shown outstanding leadership on mining and related issues in the region, including their calls for the protection of the Bylong Valley,” Mr Shaw said.
“We – and I’m sure many others – are very grateful for their support.”
Image: The Golden Highway