Rumours have been confirmed this morning with an announcement from NSW Nationals Leader John Barilaro that the NSW government is buying out the proposed Chinese government owned Shenhua Watermark coalmine in the Liverpool Plains for $100m. The buy out ends a 13 year battle by conservation groups and locals to protect important woodlands, home to threatened species, such as swift parrots as well as important farmland in the nations foodbowl. Key concerns by farming locals have been the damage to aquifers on which the landowners rely as well as loss of farmland.
“This is great news not only for farmers, but also for koalas. This mine would have had dire consequences for groundwater and farmers in the area. Koalas, threatened by extinction due to fragmentation and loss of habitat, would have been pushed further to extinction even before works on the mine would have started, due to the planned railway construction right through koala habitat,” said Doro Babeck, Bob Brown Foundation Koala campaigner.
“About 250 koalas live and feed in the area, this mine would have been devastating to their survival in NSW. Koalas are on track to become extinct by 2050, unless we stop approving projects such as this one and continue to log forests. This is a great announcement. Farmers can now get on with producing food without having to worry about this dreadful project going ahead. This mine should never have been approved in the first place due to its location on prime farmland. It’s high time to for the government to wake up to the threats these projects pose to climate and the survival of species and biodiversity. It’s crazy this project even got to approval stage and lingered for more than a decade over the heads of this farming community. Let’s hope common sense prevails for other projects, such as the ill conceived Santos gas project in the Pilliga forest, which also poses unacceptable threats to the largest semi-arid woodland left in the state, groundwater and koala habitat," said Ms Babeck.