Unearthing the Future

Defenders of Our Land, Water and Future are a group of volunteers formed three months ago in the Inner West following a screening at Leichhardt Town Hall of a documentary by Lock the Gate Alliance called “Fractured Country”.

Defenders have surveyed over 600 residents in the Balmain area about their attitudes towards coal and gas mining. Overwhelmingly those surveyed are unaware and shocked to discover that our drinking water is under threat, as well as our productive farmlands. Some of the licences issued are literally in our backyard including around St Peters. Spring Farm near Camden has several operating gas wells within a few hundred metres of homes. Coal and gas mining is all about quick production and quick exit. This is completely devoid of any long term sustainability.

This type of production has detrimental consequences for our future particularly for our most precious commodity on this, the driest inhabited continent – water. Coal and coal seam gas mining removes water from our rivers, creeks and wetlands. It affects all the water habitats for creatures such as platypus and the micro-organisms that help develop and sustain our ecosystem. It alters our natural habitats resulting in deforestation and in the case of open cut mines, the land can never be rehabilitated to its former state.

Our productive farmlands disappear ending centuries of tradition of farmers earning a sustainable living off the land. It also robs communities of precious skills being handed down from generation to generation, if the farmlands are mined.

This type of industry doesn’t create any jobs for the community because most of the workers are flown in and out without any connection to the locals. In NSW mining only accounts for 1.2% of all jobs and only contributes 2% to the state’s economy. In rural areas when mining begins the price of housing artificially rises and affordability becomes impossible while the production is in progress.

Mining causes soil erosion and once the land is cut open it takes centuries for it to recover. With the reduction in suitable farmland to produce our food it will need to be sourced from overseas. The detrimental impact on communities from this type of mining has been proven and studied in countries like Canada and America. It is well documented that it results in reducing long term sustainability of our farmlands and local communities.

Coal and gas mining is not a long term vision for our beautiful country. It is a short term gain for long term destruction.

• By Rafida Ali from Defenders of Our Land, Water and Future. Support the cause against mining by attending the Defender’s free community picnic at Bicentennial Park in Glebe from 12-4pm on Sunday 21st of September.

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