March 3, 2014
A report commissioned by anti-coal mining group, the Oakey Coal Action Alliance, highlights alleged benefits if the expansion of the Acland mine does not proceed.
The report, the “Acland Sustainable Energy Plan” was written by renewable energy consultant Trevor Berrill.
It claims the Darling Downs has far more to gain through sustainable farming and energy production than by increasing fossil-fuel mining.
The report says the mine expansion would destroy more than 1300ha of Queensland’s best cropping land. Huge amounts of water proposed for washing coal could instead be used to irrigate crops to feed 70,000 people.
An extra 750ha ear-marked for mining could be used for a solar farm to provide clean energy to about 70,000 homes in south-east Queensland.
The report claims this solar farm would create between 900 and 1900 full-time equivalent (FTE) job years compared with 1850 FTE years with short-term jobs through the mine expansion.
The remaining land within the Stage 3 mining lease could be used for both irrigated and dry-land cropping, grazing stock, eco-tourism and conservation of biodiversity values including koalas and rare grasslands.
Public submissions on the proposed Stage 3 expansion of the mine close today.
Alliance president and local farmer John Cook said the State Government must stop destroying Queensland’s food bowl.
“This report proves there are better options available than destroying farmland and communities for short-term gains with fossil-fuel mining,” he said.
“On-farm electricity generation and traditional food practices provide farmers with a dual income and a truly sustainable future. Coal mining by contrast degrades the land potential making it unsuitable for cropping.”
Mr Cook said the expansion would:
- Destroy 1631ha of strategic cropping land;
- Waste aquifer water that should be used for crops;
- Have increased adverse health impacts on residents from more noise and dust pollution;
- Create potential flooding problems;
- Destroy the habitat of local koalas;
- Clear more than 40ha of critically endangered bluegrass land;
- Result in up to 30 extra uncovered coal trains per week through Brisbane suburbs.
Lock the Gate spokesman Drew Hutton said the LNP government had back-flipped on its promise before the last State election not to support the mine expansion.