Batemans Bay High School Report to Coastwatchers Environment Fund Dec 2019.

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Newspaper coverage – Coastwatchers Environment Fund and Batemans Bay High School

This article appeared in the Moruya Examiner / Bay Post on November 27th 2019.

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Dargues Gold Mine update from Coastwatchers’ new representative on the Dargues Gold Mine Community Consultative Committee, Stewart Needham

Stewart writes: I attended the last Dargues Reef CCC meeting on 30 September as an observer, and since then my nomination has been formally accepted so that I will be able to fully participate in the next CCC meeting to be held on 16 December. I hope I will be able to do Coastwatchers’ interests justice, as I have had relevant experience in my past career in geology and environmental management in mining. This experience includes developing and organising consultative groups for the environmental and social impacts of uranium mining in the Northern Territory, a nd implementing operational procedures for the regulation of mining in Queensland, as well as environmental auditing of mine sites.

The September CCC meeting was almost entirely dedicated to noise; presentations were made by the NSW EPA on regulatory requirements and how monitoring is undertaken, and by the company and Majors Creek residents on a number of issues which have arisen. Perhaps the most significant issue is noise at night. Negotiations have focussed on noise and vibration from blasting, and when ore processing operations begin, crushing and truck movement timetables. Currently the local community is pressing to have ore stockpiled underground at night, with truck movements to the crusher limited to daylight hours.

A short presentation was made to the company at this meeting about the unplanned release of water on 17 September, when an incorrectly graded slope related to construction of the tailings dam allowed sediment-laden water to flow into Spring Creek. The data presented related only to the timing and volume of water flow: flow before the event was below 10 litres per second and peaked at 80 litres per second; flow returned to less than 10 l/s on 20 September. Representatives of NSW EPA visited the site on 17 September, water samples were taken, and a diversion drain was constructed that day to stop the flow of water into Spring Creek. Unfortunately no data was presented at the CCC meeting or since regarding water quality and the extent to which any effects may have extended downstream. I have been pressing the chair of the CCC and the company for that information. I was informed by the company on 21 November that a report on the monitoring data has been drafted and will be uploaded to their website once approved. I believe the company has met the regulatory requirements for management of this unplanned release and subsequent reporting, but that community expectations are not reflected in the long time it is taking to report on water quality. I intend to pursue this matter at the next CCC, and stress that monitoring data related to unplanned water releases needs to be publicised fully and quickly to all downstream stakeholders. Delays in releasing such information can only perpetuate (or increase) negative opinions about the Dargues Reef project.

Resignation of the environmental manager

The The HSEC Manager (Health, Safety Environment & Community) has recently resigned and his last day is 22 November. The position of Senior Environmental Advisor​ is still vacant.

Water Management Plan for the Operational Phase

The operational phase of mining (open stope blasting, ore trucking, ore processing to produce concentrate, and trucking concentrate off-site) is planned to begin during the next 6 months. A Water Management Plan is being drafted for the operational phase. I has been given an assurance by NSW EPA that Coastwatchers will have the opportunity to comment on the draft prior to it being finalised. Key issues for us will relate to water quality monitoring, inclusion of parameters relating to downstream water quality risks, and release of monitoring data.

Public presentation and project update

The company held a public information forum in Majors Creek on the evening of 18 November. Key points were:

  • Construction of the Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) is nearly complete and placement of the High Density Polyethelyne (HDPE) liner is in progress.
  • Licenced water bores have been installed into old mine workings (Snobs and Stewart & Mertons), and one ‘Harvestable Rights Dam’ has been built (these will allow the company to source water for mine operations, and also to maintain water flow in Spring Creek).
  • 24/7 underground mining operations began in September with over 2,000 metres of underground development completed. The first stope firing will take place in the next 6 months.
  • Construction of the processing plant is 80% complete; commissioning is expected by the end of February, with transport of concentrate to Port Kembla beginning in that month.
  • During the next 6 months, more ‘Harvestable Rights Dams’ will be built and tailings deposition into the TSF will begin.

A slide presentation from the public information session is on the company website:

Information is also posted on their Facebook page:

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Protect Lake Brou

Lake Brou is a beautiful coastal lake lying just 2.5 kms south-west of Potato Point near Bodalla on the NSW South Coast. It is part surrounded by Eurobodalla National Park to the north-east, east and south-east, and forms part of the Batemans Marine Park. The Coastal Lakes Inquiry undertaken by the NSW Healthy Rivers Commission in 2002 classified Lake Brou as a Significant Coastal Lake.

Photo courtesy of NPWS

Unfortunately the forest on the lake’s north-west edge is part of Bodalla State Forest (compartment 3004) and at this stage is scheduled for logging late 2019.

This is the Forestry Corporation of NSW’s Harvest Plan (current as of November 2019):

The boundaries of the proposed logging can be seen here (image courtesy of Google)

A variety of threatened species rely on these forests. As an example the Swift Parrot uses NSW South Coast forests for winter-flowering nectar trees on its annual migration from Tasmania. All State Forests ( including the compartment under threat of logging) in Eurobodalla Shire east of the Princes Highway form part of the Ulladulla to Merimbula Important Bird Area, identified as such by BirdLife International because of its importance for Swift Parrots. These critical forests extend about 10 km inland from the coast and include many other local forests currently being logged or planning to be logged. The most important feed trees for these migratory birds are Spotted Gum and other flowering eucalypts. Forests dominated by Ironbarks and Bloodwoods which are likely to support the Parrots in years when the Spotted Gums are not flowering are also vital.

In 2014, researchers from the Australian National University modelled that the Swift Parrot may face extinction by 2031 due to predation in Tasmania and loss of habitat on the mainland.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) upgraded the status of the Swift Parrot from endangered to critically endangered in October 2015 based on results from the study. It is thought that less than a thousand pairs remain, the key threatening process on mainland Australia being “Habitat loss and fragmentation from forest harvesting”

Giant Trees with girths greater than 4.4m grow in this forest.
Pied Oystercatchers (endangered) forage on Lake Brou shores next to the State Forest

Apart from threats to fauna and flora there is the increased risk of uncontrollable fire in the area due to large volumes of crown debris left drying out on the forest floor. Increasingly Forestry Corporation is experiencing difficulty finding time in the shortening annual windows for burning off all the “waste” on the forest floor that is being generated by all the logging operations. More and more logged forests are left to pose fire risks from arson or lightning strikes.

Victoria has now announced a phasing out of the native forest logging industry over 10 years. How much longer is the community going to put up with native forest logging on public land in NSW?

CoastWatchers urges all concerned citizens to write to the local State member Andrew Constance, to Forestry Corporation of NSW and to the Beagle, BayPost and Narooma News demanding a moratorium on logging of all coastal State Forests and in particular Bodalla State Forest adjoining Lake Brou…..too precious to lose.

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Coastwatchers sponsor high school native garden

Batemans Bay High School Student Environment Council is busy preparing a Year 12 Wellbeing Native Garden.  Beds have been prepared and Lilli Pillis planted.  “Next step is planting natives in tubs and installing planter baskets on the wall” said teacher Kerryn Hopkins.

The garden will encourage local native birds to return to the school environment as well as providing an attractive gathering place for year 12 students.  And the hands on work by the students improves their horticulture and ecological understanding. 

Ms Hopkins thanked the Coastwatchers Environment Fund for sponsoring the project.  

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A weekend of ideas for the future, naturally

New connections were made and ‘light-bulb moments’ were plenty when nine high-school students spent the weekend of October 26th & 27th 2019 immersed in nature.

Held at Meringo Point Sanctuary, Eurobodalla Young Legends 2019 saw the students mentored by Angus Mitchell, Eva Davis-Boermans, Lily Berry and Pearl Mitchell – movers and shakers with environment-based careers who volunteered their time for the weekend. Developed by Eurobodalla Shire Council and sponsored by the Coastwatchers Environment Fund, the weekend program gets budding young environmentalists into the bush while they work through ideas and activities with their mentors.

Eurobodalla Council’s environmental education officer Bernadette Davis said Young Legends was about making a difference in the local community, and beyond.

“Our mentors aim to inspire young people, give them guidance, get them on board for upcoming projects, and help their efforts in making positive environmental change happen,” Ms Davis said.

“The students come away talking about the plans they have and the skills they’ve learnt to turn those plans into reality.”

The Young Legend students included Hayley Thelan, Hayden Loutitt, Karrisa Sydnham, Liarna Miller, Matt Goddard, Tess Poyner, Sarah Burnes, Damia O’Laughlin and Lily Ralston, and represented all of the shire’s high schools.

Over the weekend the Young Legends spent time spotlighting for greater gliders with Council’s natural resource officer Heidi Thomson, and became immersed in local ecosystems with botanist Lily Berry. Ms Davis said it was an opportunity to better understand the local environment and the importance of maintaining and protecting valuable natural assets.

“Other activities included a beach clean-up, learning how to use the Australian Marine Debris Initiatives database, and cyanotype sun printing with native plants,” Ms Davis said.

“We also had some fun, creating a video snapshot of the weekend. Keep an eye out for that on Council’s Facebook page in the near future.”

A biannual event, this is the second time the Young Legends event has run. To learn more about the program, contact Bernadette Davis on 4474 1037 or

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Letter to Forest Monitoring Steering Committee – Sept 2019

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Coastwatchers Submission to Natural Resources Commission NSW Forest Monitoring and Improvement Steering Committee, Nov 8th 2019

The Commission invites comment on the draft monitoring program for the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA) from all interested parties. The NSW Forest Monitoring and Improvement Steering Committee is independently chaired by the Natural Resources Commission.

The Coastwatchers Association Incorporated submission to the NRC on the draft monitoring program for the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval appears below in pdf form.

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Coastwatchers supports NSW Regional Community Energy Fund application

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CW Submission re RLS Stokes 23 Sep 2019

Posted in Planning & Law - Eurobodalla, Rural Lands Strategy Planning Proposal, Submissions | Leave a comment