Continued… Action group opposes Bickham on same grounds

The action group was initially formed in the 10 year battle between the community and Bickham when the company proposed an open cut coal mine for its south Blandford site. A landmark decision was made in May 2010 where the then NSW Premier Kristina Keneally rejected the open cut mine and the NSW Government amended the Mining State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) to prohibit open cut mining on the Bickham site permanently.

The action group is calling on the government to include underground mining in this existing SEPP for the site. The power of the people decision wasn’t made lightly as it followed a decade of grief, thousands of dollars, a strategic assessment of coal mining in the Upper Hunter, detailed water studies and an extensive review by a Planning Assessment Commission (PAC).

The action group believes the new proposal by Bickham is no different to the first and it should be rejected on exactly the same grounds. When making her announcement in the Upper Hunter almost two years ago, Ms Keneally responded to a question of future underground mining indicating it too would be rejected on the same site for the same reasons.

A fifth generation Haydon to live on the Pages River, Mr Haydon is very passionate about protecting the water source with any mining putting the river at risk. He said on technical and scientific grounds the site was not viable for coal mining as the coal seams intersect the river making contamination and water deprivation imminent.

“It is the same coal seams they want to mine and they will be filled with the same water. “The best coal seam is the deepest “G seam” which is up to 400 metres below the river and is full of water,”Mr Haydon said. Mr Haydon said despite people seeing action on the site throughout past months, he can’t believe the company is back to explore. “It is a mine free area of intensive high value agriculture and is set high in the catchment of the Upper Hunter well away from any of the main mines in the region,” Mr Haydon said. “The site has already been extensively drilled, surveyed and analysed, there is no point in doing any further drilling and putting the lives of the community back into angst. “We are confident we can win this and stop it now, but if we have to go through another PAC review and more anxiety, we will.

“We went through a shocking 10 year battle that divided the community and we don’t want to go through that again.”

Water specialist Owen Droop, Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association representatives David Paradice and Hellen Georgopolous, and Scone Equine Hospital’s Angus Adkins also spoke against the underground exploration.