The timely release of a State Government Inquiry, revealing adverse effects of mining in the Sydney drinking water catchment, should add significant clout to the Central Coast Drinking Water Catchments Protection Bill 2019, introduced by NSW Greens.
Central Coast Greens MLC, Abigail Boyd, introduced the Bill to the NSW Parliament Upper House in October and it is due to be debated on November 21.
“If passed, this Bill will protect our drinking water here on the Central Coast and prevent the Wallarah 2 coal mine from proceeding,” she said.
Boyd, also the NSW Greens spokesperson on Mining, Coal and Coal Seam Gas, said the Bill would protect the Central Coast drinking water by imposing a moratorium on mining and mining related activities in the following catchments: Mangrove Mountain Creek dam and weir, Mooney Mooney dam, Ourimbah Creek, Porters Creek, Wyong River as well as land where surface water drains to those places.
“The Wallarah 2 coal mine will consume gigalitres of our drinking water supply and threatens its contamination, with clean up possibly taking up to 30 years,” said Boyd.
“It poses significant threats to the waterways that form the Central Coast water supply system at a time when our water reserves are already being depleted at an alarming rate across the state.
“The Sydney and Illawarra water catchments already have the benefit of special protections and are within the remit of Water NSW.
“So why not the Central Coast?
“The Liberal-National Government defends its mining approvals process despite it having led to a longwall mine being permitted in the drinking water catchment of over 340,000 people.
“They defend that process despite it resulting in a mining company being allowed to discharge recycled mine water into that drinking water catchment.
“Nowhere else in the world would this be allowed to happen.”
During her speech introducing the Bill, Boyd slammed the Liberal Party over the approval, bringing up Barry O’Farrell’s now infamous promise that the Liberals would not approve Wallarah 2.
“Protecting the Central Coast from Wallarah 2 was the subject of an election promise from the Liberal Party in 2007 and 2011, and the Labor Party in 2015.
“In a statement that the Liberal Party will not be allowed to forget, on February 28, 2008, Barry O’Farrell, (then leader of the Opposition), addressing a rally against the Wallarah 2 coal mine, said the next Liberal Government: ‘will ensure that mining will not occur on the Coast or in any water catchment area and ensure that mining leases and exploration permits reflect that common sense’.
‘No ifs, not buts’, a guarantee, said Boyd.
“Prior to the 2011 election it was also stated in Liberal Party policy that there would be no coal mining in the Wyong water catchment valleys.
“Almost a decade after the ‘no ifs, no buts’ guarantee given to the Central Coast community, in the face of sustained community opposition and the evidence mounting about the dangers of invasive, destructive, water intensive longwall mining, this Bill gives the government the chance to finally make good on the Liberal’s promise,” Boyd continued.
Boyd also criticised the Liberals for putting the onus on the mine operator, Kores, to ensure the catchment is not polluted.
“The government will say that the 200-plus conditions placed on the mine, that rely on Kores to do the right thing and ensure they don’t accidently pollute or deplete the drinking water, is sufficient protection.