Agriculture under threat from expanded mining leases
Australian agricultural land is being significantly encroached upon by coal and gas mining, including the planned Narrabri underground mine expansion that will send nine more farms dry due to water impacts. The expansion is on top of the 61,000 ha the company has already purchased.
Lock the Gate members Sally Hunter and Nicky Chirlian will elaborate on why agriculture is under threat from expanded mining leases at the Fenner Conference on Environment – Making Australia agriculture sustainable – in Canberra on March 17 and 18.
“With more than 37 per cent of the nation covered by coal and gas tenements and applications, there are few places you can farm without the uncertainty of proposed projects,” says Ms Hunter. “There are few places left to farm without the negative impacts created by these industries.”
Ms Hunter and Ms Chirlian have first-hand experience of the ramifications of mining on agriculture from their home regions of the Liverpool Plains and Namoi Valley in NSW. As representatives of Lock the Gate, they will also bring a national perspective to the Fenner conference, with case examples from the Hunter and Bylong Valleys in NSW and Baralaba in central Qld.
“We know what life is like when mining comes to your district,” says Ms Hunter. “There are issues of land and water access, changes to community dynamics, invasion of pest and weeds and implications for the employment sector. These often affect the resilience of our communities.”
Ms Chirlian says we need to consider post-mining uses of land as proposed fossil fuel projects are rejected, and how we can avoid renewable energy projects creating similar land use conflicts.
“In all situations, we must seek to generate positive outcomes for our communities,” says Ms Chirlian.
“This is a plea for us to transform attitudes to landscapes and the people that inhabit them,” she says.
“Let’s reach beyond the financial value that we can extract from a resource. We must seek holistic solutions that facilitate local decision-making and create positive intergenerational outcomes for Australia.”
The Fenner Conference on Environment (Making Australian agriculture sustainable) will be held at the Shine Dome, Canberra, on 17 and 18 March. Registration through www.sustainableag.org.au