MORE than 30 Gloucester locals were among several hundred anti-coal demonstrators protesting State land use planning outside the Supreme Court in Sydney last Wednesday.
Broadcaster Alan Jones and Groundswell Gloucester’s Julie Lyford were among the speakers, who were protesting an appeal by mining giant Rio Tinto against a Land and Environment Court decision against the proposed expansion of its Warkworth open cut coal mine near Bulga.
In April, the court sided in favour of the citizens of the tiny Hunter Valley community, who argued that the planned expansion of the mine would have detrimental social and environmental impacts on their community.
The NSW government, which approved the expansion, is supporting Rio Tinto in its appeal and has slated changes to State planning legislation if the appeal is unsuccessful.
The changes would mean that economic factors must be the principal consideration when a mining project is being considered.
The protesters, predominantly retirees and residents from regional areas, waved placards saying ‘Save Gloucester’ and ‘Save Bulga,’ then tore up copies of the Coalition’s ‘Contract with NSW’ document that formed its election platform. During her address, Mrs Lyford held up a picture of Premier Barry O’Farrell and Resources Minister Chris Hartcher, then in opposition, posing in ‘water not coal’ T-shirts with Central Coast residents during the State election campaign.
“Water not coal - what happened Mr Premier?” she said.
Alan Jones told the rally moves to boost the chances of large mining projects being approved in NSW were more suited to Russian President Vladimir Putin than Premier Barry O’Farrell.
He said the proposal by the State government was “a denial of the democratic process”.
Members of GRIP (Gloucester Residents in Partnership) and the Barrington Gloucester Stroud Preservation Alliance chartered a bus to attend the rally.
GRIP believes that the public release of the Rocky Hill coal mine EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), submitted to the Department of Planning by GRL (Gloucester Resources Limited) earlier this year, is being held up waiting for the court’s decision on the appeal.