Mining still an issue in Gloucester more than a year after Rocky Hill ruling

Members of Groundswell Gloucester at the Land and Environment Court in Sydney. Photo supplied.
Members of Groundswell Gloucester at the Land and Environment Court in Sydney. Photo supplied.

Members of community group Groundswell Gloucester have been left scratching their heads after Gloucester Resources Limited (GRL), the company that unsuccessfully sought to build a coal mine at Rocky Hill, applied to renew its exploration licences in the area in early March.

Groundswell chairperson, Julie Lyford, said the group had been trying to find out why GRL would reapply for the exploration licences and what it could mean for the future of Gloucester since the applications were made.

They sent a letter to the NSW Government objecting to the applications and received an acknowledgement of its receipt, but no further information has been forthcoming.

Ms Lyford said it was concerning that GRL would continue to show interest in the area, especially after the NSW Land and Environment Court's landmark rejection of the Rocky Hill Coal Mine last February.

"We are deeply disappointed that GRL continues to create widespread anxiety in the Gloucester community," Ms Lyford said.

"I'd like to feel positive that the State government, after more than 15 years of the community fighting coal in the valley, would see it's really unacceptable for these licences to be renewed."

Groundswell chairperson, Julie Lyford

Groundswell chairperson, Julie Lyford

A 6,767-signature petition calling for the NSW Government to cancel GRL's licences to protect the community of Gloucester has also been tabled in State parliament by Port Stephens MP, Kate Washington.

However, because the petition contains less than 10,000 signatures, it's unlikely to be discussed.

GRL's renewal applications are for exploration licences 6523 and 6524, which expire in August 2020.

The rejected Rocky Hill mine was proposed to be built in the area contained within exploration licence 6523.

According to Groundswell committee member, John Watts, this makes GRL's application to renew its licences even more confusing.

"I can't work out what they're on about," Mr Watts said.

"They haven't discovered any major deposits, apart from at Rocky Hill, and they can't go back there."

He believed GRL would be unlikely to pursue a new mine in the area, but said Groundswell weren't leaving it to chance.

"I'd be really surprised if there'd be any application for a mine in any of those licences," Mr Watts said.

"Our main objective now is to let the community and wider community know that GRL have applied to renew their licences and it should be refused."

Groundswell are calling on community members opposed to the mining of fossil fuels in the Gloucester area to let the NSW Government know they object to GRL's exploration licences being renewed.

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