GRCCC Awaits Details on NSW State Government on Dharawal Compromise
However the compromise still allows longwall mining to take place within the Georges River Catchment, if approved by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission.
Few details have been made available, but according to NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, 98.7 percent of the Dharawal State Conservation Area would be absorbed into a proposed national park.
On Sunday 16th October, the Minister for the Environment, Robyn Parker, approved portions of the proposed area inside Dharawal State Conservation Area to be left open to BHP mining operations. The compromise leaves open the possibility that BHP will continue longwall mining operations at the Bulli coal-seam mine project. Longwall mining would threaten the Woronora and Cataract drinking water catchments, over 600 Aboriginal sites, as well as pristine bushland including important upland swamps at the headwaters of the Georges River.
GRCCC Chairperson Julie Bourke said that without access to information, maps, and guidelines relating to the proposals for environmental protection stemming from the negotiations between the state government and BHP, it would be difficult to ascertain the details of the project.
“We are seeking assurance that any mining operations occurring in the Upper Georges River Catchment do not threaten the Georges River and its upland swamps,” said Bourke. “If any mining is to continue, we would demand extreme caution to ensure that ecological values are not compromised.”
“Without further detail, it is difficult to make a judgment about this deal,” she said.
The Dharawal State Conservation Area is located between Royal National Park and the City of Wollongong.
Last year, the area was under intense scrutiny as the State Planning Assessment Commission deliberated over a BHP proposal to conduct a $360 million longwall mining operation over the next 30 years. In October, the Commission strongly recommended against the proposal, citing significant irreparable damage to natural features and some built infrastructure, such as dams, tunnels and roads. BHP withdrew the proposal temporarily.
In 1993, former Premier Bob Carr first raised the call for stronger protection of Dharawal as a national park.
The GRCCC is an incorporated association of nine local government councils working in partnership with state and federal government agencies and community representatives within the Georges River catchment. Its partner programs and initiatives add to a greater understanding of the health of the catchment, and assist the GRCCC to identify and target areas where further investigation is required. Member councils include Bankstown City, Campbelltown City, Fairfield City, Hurstville City, Kogarah City, Liverpool City, Rockdale City, Sutherland Shire and Wollondilly Shire councils.
For more information from the GRCCC contact www.georgesriver.org.au