THE balance between coal mines and agricultural industries hasn’t been found yet and those who want a balance need to speak up.
This was the general message from key note speakers at the “Jerrys in Jeopardy” meeting on Tuesday.
More than 100 concerned farmers, vignerons, thoroughbred breeders and villagers packed the Jerrys Plains community hall to hear the latest discussion on the risks associated with mining.
One fact that all the speakers spoke about was that the cumulative effect of mining was not being properly addressed by government when considering new mines or expansions.
Currently in close proximity to Jerrys Plains are Drayton South, Plashett, Doyles Creek, Wambo and Carrington West mines who are considering expanding their operations.
Dr John Drinan from the Singleton Shire Healthy Environment Group said the larger the coal mines the bigger the health impacts that come with it especially when it comes to air quality.
“A report from the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network said that there were only six days last year that the PM 10 concentration went over the national standard,” he said.
“But if you went through the actual records there were hundreds of hours measured where it exceeded the national standard.
“Even one hour’s exceedance is damaging to health and this is from the existing mines.”
What was a big concern for Dr Drinan was that airbourne particles known as PM10s could also become more dangerous when chemicals became attached to them, something that hasn’t been properly explored yet.
HUNTER Valley Water Users Association’s Arthur Burns and Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Industry Breeders’ Association’s John Sunderland reinforced how important the water system is for every industry in the Hunter and that could be risked when mine operations approach river systems.
“Once you put a dragline through the alluvial flats or expose water aquifers that are detrimental to the Hunter River they’re gone for hundreds even thousands of years,” Mr Burns said.
Wollar community representative Bev Smiles asked that the people of Jerrys Plains take the opportunity to speak up and lobby to your local Member of Parliament or take part in Planning Association Commission public sessions to voice your concerns.
“People have to work together to ensure their community isn’t the next village lost,” she said.
She asked that people assist in the costs of fighting court cases by pledging money to the Environmental Defenders Office.
“If you win one that will really make people look seriously at the model and hopefully change the decision making on new mining proposals.”