The Department of the Environment and Energy is seeking feedback on this strategy and action inventory for 2018-30.
The draft revised strategy is open to public comment until Friday 16 March 2018.
The Department of the Environment and Energy is seeking feedback on this strategy and action inventory for 2018-30.
The draft revised strategy is open to public comment until Friday 16 March 2018.
The Department of the Environment and Energy is overseeing a statutory review of the operation of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012. The review will consider the effectiveness of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation in facilitating increased flows of finance into the clean energy sector.
The review invites public submissions by Friday 16 February 2018.
Join the Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC) on the 24th of March in Sydney, one year out from the state election, as they call for the State Government to choose a clean energy future. Lock the Gate, The Wilderness Society, 350.org and the NCC are rallying together and marching through the Sydney CBD to call for 100% renewable energy.
Join thousands from across the state to make this the biggest it can be! Be sure to invite your friends and networks. You can RSVP here to get updates on the event, and you can visit the Facebook page and invite all your friends!
Coastwatchers is a member of the NCC.
Dear Coastwatchers Members
This is a chance to tell the Turnbull and Berejiklian Governments how deeply opposed you are to the destruction of our native forests by the logging industry. Please put Wednesday 14 February in your diary NOW!
The push to lock in new Regional Forest Agreements is now a rolling juggernaut. The conservation movement is deeply worried that the governments will jointly ram new long term agreements through before they next face elections. It is clear to us that the logging and woodchipping will get even more intense and timber allocations under the new RFA’s will effectively be permanent and legally protected against any reduction without massive compensation.
This will apply no matter how desperate the plight of koalas, the greater glider and all other forest wildlife and despite the escalating climate change crisis for which the destruction of forests by industrial logging is a major factor.
The conservation movement does not believe the community “input” sought by the Governments agent, the Department of Primary Industry (DPI) will be anything other than a sham and a fraud. However, we ask that you drop in to the Batemans Bay session on the Wednesday 14th February (see details below) if possible to tell them how deeply you are opposed to the destruction of our forests by the logging industry and State Forests.
We will get back to you soon with further information on the RFA juggernaut and the current, ongoing struggle to save the Mogo forest from the next round of devastating logging. Remember, despite all the odds, more than 10 years ago we beat off the Mogo charcoal plant that was to burn our South Coast forests.
By the way, have any of you seen the intensive logging right on the Princes Highway and Tomboyne Road, just south of the East Lynne Store? – get out of your car and have a good look at the future of more than two million hectares of NSW forest and imagine even more intensive logging, most of the South Coast’s forests destined for the Eden woodchip mill or overseas power plants if the governments and industry have their way.
As part of community consultation, DPI is hosting six drop-in sessions throughout February at the following locations:
Community input invited on Regional Forest Agreements
Regional communities are being encouraged to have their say on the renewal of NSW Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs), covering the North East, Eden and Southern Regions of NSW.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Group Director Forestry Policy, Research and Development, Nick Milham, said the NSW and Australian governments are currently seeking community input through drop-in sessions, and a consultation and submission process.
“The NSW and Australian governments are encouraging all stakeholders to have their say on what shape the RFAs should take and how we can improve the sustainable management of our native forests,” Mr Milham said.
“The governments are working closely with all parties to get the balance right in the long-term management of our forest resources, and consultation is integral to this process.
“We hope to hear from industry, environment groups, landholders and the broader community on any emerging issues or changes that need to be captured since the agreements were developed nearly 20 years ago,” he said.
Mr Milham said the RFAs are in place to ensure the sustainable management and conservation of Australia’s native forests.
“The renewal consultation coincides with a review being undertaken on how we are tracking in current implementation of the RFAs.
“This provides our stakeholders with a full picture on how we have performed under the existing agreements, while at the same time what the future holds, and how we can learn from our experience over the past 20 years.”
For more information, please see Beagle Weekly article and visit https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.
It is with pleasure that I welcome members and friends today.
In the 2016-2017 financial year we have held 6 Coastwatchers committee meetings. Though technically outside that in August, the Moruya Forest Forum was arguably a high point with an attendance of around 100 members and friends. This was a timely event in light of the recent renewed interest in logging the forests of Batemans Bay and Mogo. Our secretary, Richard Roberts, who masterminded the event is our representative on ‘SERCA’ the “South East Region Conservation Alliance” their aim being to end logging on the South Coast.
The Dargues Reef gold mine at Major’s Creek has again been the focus of protracted efforts over the year and to our consternation, was given final approval by the Commonwealth Government in April. We continue to be concerned at its possible impact on the Eurobodalla Water Supply and vulnerable and endangered species as well as the long-term care and maintenance of the site. We believe that security bonds for rehabilitation are inadequate both during mining operations and after mining ceases. We further believe that potential impacts of projects of this nature should be considered over whole catchments rather than localised areas surrounding mined sites. I would like to specifically thank Richard Roberts and Dr Emmett O’Loughlin for their invaluable contributions to our submissions.
The need to always look beyond the immediate locale of a project is demonstrated by the difficulties of the Shorebird Recovery Program within our region. Because the nesting sites for shorebirds are above Mean High Tide level, they have no protection under the zonings of Marine Parks. Coastal developments, uncontrolled dogs and predation by foxes and feral cats are our chief concerns. I would like to acknowledge the dedication of our President, John Perkins to this work which has become all- consuming especially over the nesting season.
With Climate Change concerns, in particular anticipated sea level rises, I wish to acknowledge the environmental advocacy of our long-time Committee member, Reina Hill, our representative on ‘CEMAC’, Eurobodalla Shire Council’s “Coast and Environment Management Advisory Committee.” Her voice is essential on this large committee where developer interests are strongly represented and often antagonistic to coastal management reforms.
On-going monitoring of Council’s agendas is an essential role for Coastwatchers especially in light of increasing pressures from tourism and developers. The Eurobodalla Rural Lands Strategy is an on-going consideration of what is best for the community. The proposed large residential subdivision around Bevian Road between Rosedale and Guerilla Bay is effectively a new suburb warranting close attention to ensure protection of wetland habitats and remnant vegetation while planning for inclusion of Open Space linkages for walkers and cyclists. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate the value of providing a range of housing styles to meet changing community needs.
I wish to acknowledge the role of Committee member Joslyn van der Moolen in bringing us into the 21st century with the establishment of Social Media accounts and our Treasurer Mark Rote in re-vamping our Website to enable improved navigation and management.
And I especially wish to acknowledge the commitment and contributions of both Richard and Barbara Roberts since the inception of Coastwatchers in the early 1980’s. Along with Reina Hill they had the foresight to launch and nurture our Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens. It has been a long involvement with numerous ups and downs along the way.
Richard’s dedication to the professional production of our newsletters is exemplary. Nine newsletters have been produced this year covering not only local but wider environmental issues, many of global significance.
In spite of our relatively stable membership (from 125 at this time last year to currently 118), the difficulty of attracting younger members continues to be of concern. Our membership is ageing with some people moving on to meet their changed needs. Two long-serving members, Martin Phillips and Jim Baker passed away his year.
Has Society in general moved away from public interest groups that demand time and support? Has social media replaced these groups? In the not too distant future the picture may be much clearer.
The financial position of the Association remains very sound and I thank all members for their support in achieving this.
With unforeseen but much enjoyed grand parenting responsibilities in far North Queensland, I must relinquish my role with Coastwatchers. My hope is that the Association will continue to fulfil a most important function to the benefit of our community.
John Stowar, Acting President.
overview-extending-regional-forest-agreements (102KB .pdf)
The Coastwatchers Environment Fund is one of hundreds of environment funds which have been registered on the Commonwealth Government’s REO – the Register of Environmental Organisations. This registration process provides the legal basis for attracting tax-deductible donations.
A Commonwealth Parliamentary Inquiry is considering requiring 25-50% of all tax deductible revenue to be spent on remedial environmental work.
The NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) has prepared the following comments.
“DGR STATUS: Should all Environmental Charities have to plant trees?
For decades, groups on the Register of Environmental Organisations (REO) have been eligible for tax-deductible donations – encouraging private funding for the public good.
But in 2016, half the members of a (Commonwealth) Parliamentary Inquiry proposed that in order to remain eligible, environmental groups, including EDOs, must spend at least 25% of their donations revenue of reactive ‘environment remediation work’ – activities like tree planting.
We (the EDO) believe proactive protection of the environment provides clear public benefits in many forms:
Imposing a minimum spend on remediation would require many well established environmental charities to
either radically alter the way they operate;
inefficiently divert money to other groups at the Commonwealth Government’s direction;
or lose eligibility for taxdeductibility donations altogether.
Following the 2016 REO inquiry, a 2017 Commonwealth Treasury Consultation paper asked what stakeholders think about the ‘minimum spend’ proposal for environment groups. It even floated the option of increasing the minimum to 50% of donated funds.
During the consultation period, environmental Deductible Gift Recipients were for the first time required to report the percentage of their public donations expended on ‘onground environmental remediation’, ‘advocacy’ and other activities.
The proposal did not originate within the Commonwealth Treasury – it takes up arguments made by the mining and resources lobby, including the Queensland Resources Council and the gas-industry funded Energy Resources Information Centre.
It’s vital that the views of these lobbyists are not given more weight than those of the hundreds of environment groups, community members, donors and governance experts who made submissions to the REO Inquiry, pointing out the pitfalls artificially distinguishing ‘on-ground’ rehabilitation from other things environmental groups do to pursue their public purpose. Their evidence led to half the Commonwealth Parliamentary Committee rejecting the minimum 25% spending proposal.
It may suit some private interests for the Commonwealth Government to constrain environmental voices, restrict community access to legal services and place new administrative burdens on the charity sector.
But it’s not in the public interest, nor what the broader community expect of our charity and tax laws. That is why our current laws focus on charities’ purposes, rather than attempting to define their activities.
In April 2017, Big Island Mining received final approval from the Commonwealth Government to proceed with the development of the Dargues Reef Gold Mine at Majors Creek. Big Island Mining had previously received approval under NSW Planning legislation following the NSW Planning Assessment Commission determining the matter.
The initial Commonwealth conditional approval was granted under the (Cth) Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 was in February 2017. After further submissions from Big Island Mining addressing the issues of a Construction Environmental Management Plan and a Water Management Plan, final approval was granted in April 2017.
Now that this 3 year process has been completed, the Association will be making a further submission to the NSW Minister for Planning. That submission will request the need for mandatory consideration of potential downstream impacts of all mining activity, given the massive damage to the environment and communities that discharges from mine sites can and do cause.
The bond arrangements that currently exist for miners are totally inadequate, and that will be an issue that will also be addressed to the Minister and other peak environmental groups.
These issues need a coordinated approach at State level, by peak NSW environmental organisation such as the Nature Conservation Council, as they impact State-wide development and are not simply a local issue.
In February 2017, VicForests began logging an area near Warburton known as the Blue Vein coupe, just a few hundred metres from the famous 350- year-old Ada Tall Trees Reserve.
Local citizen scientists from the ‘Wildlife of the Central Highlands’ Group, had found protected habitats for the Leadbeater’s Possum within the area. With the bulldozers already at work Environmental Justice Australia (previously the Victorian Environmental Defenders Office) reported the matter to the Environment Department and VicForests, on behalf of four local community groups, and demanded that logging stop.
The Victorian Government called a temporary halt to logging operations and commenced an investigation. This was despite the fact that part of the forest in the coupe had already been destroyed. Local citizen scientists – who suspected there were threatened species in the area – then worked into the early hours of the morning and found the colony of Leadbeater’s Possums.
Logging was halted by VicForests, and the colony of Leadbeater’s Possums saved. The Victorian Environment Department is currently investigating this logging activity. It is illegal in Victoria to log habitat, which contains endangered species.
Coastwatchers Members will be kept informed of the outcome of this matter. One scenario is that the Victorian Environment Department could end up suing VicForests, another Government agency. The law in NSW is quite the opposite, where timber is far more important than endangered or vulnerable species, such as the Yellowed-bellied Glider or the Greater Glider found in the Mogo Forest.
The Coastwatchers ‘Moruya Forest Forum’, was held on Wednesday 23 August 2017, and was a great success. About 100 people attended the Forum in the St. Mary’s Performing Art Centre, an ideal venue for this type of activity.
The meeting opened with the showing of an abridged version of the film “Understory” produced by David Gallan. The film highlighted the struggles over the past 30 years to save the local south coast forests from destruction.
The Forum heard from three expert speakers:
Mike Thompson, a Coastwatchers member who talked about local forestry issues;
Virginia Young, the former Wilderness Society Forest Campaign Coordinator who outlined issues occurring internationally in forestry, the need to retain forests as carbon banks and biodiversity; and
Dr Oisin Sweeney, the Chief Ecologist with the National Parks Association who addressed the NPA’s “Forests for all Plan”.
The facilitator of the Forum was Dr George Browning, who did an excellent job. The Association thanks David, Mike, Virginia, Oisin and George, for their contributions and their professionalism in making the evening such a success.
Three resolutions were passed at the end of the Forum, calling on the NSW Government to:
Immediately cease logging the Mogo State Forest until a professionally based pre logging review is undertaken and assessed, given the known presence of both the Vulnerable (Commonwealth) Greater Glider and the Vulnerable (NSW) Yellow Bellied Glider, which have so far been ignored.
Note it is an insult to the South Coast community, for NSW Forestry to prepare a highly inadequate and Claytons pre logging review, when the review was constrained to an 18 hour budget for a 400 ha forest, and when reviewers in that forest were limited to a few tracks because of night-time occupational health and safety concerns, while searching for nocturnal species.
Support the aims and rationale of National Parks Association’s “FORESTS FOR ALL PLAN”, and calls on the NSW Government to commit to the implementation of the PLAN as a more equitable and sustainable use of public native forests across NSW.”
Prohibition on the Logging of Mogo State Forest
The Coastwatchers Association Inc. opposes the continued logging of State Forests in the Batemans Bay region of the South Coast of NSW, particularly the logging of timber, which is destined for the wood chip mill at Eden. The Association recently coordinated a ‘Moruya Forest Forum’, and the 100 community members present resolved unanimously that logging should cease immediately in this region because it was destroying the habitat of the Greater gliders and the Yellow-bellied gliders in the area. In turn this loss of habitat was destroying these Gliders. (The three resolutions of the Moruya Forest Forum of 23 August 2017 are presented in Attachment A.)
The viability of Forestry operations on the South Coast of NSW is highly questionable, given so much timber is processed into unprofitable wood chips at Eden. State Government subsidies are necessary to keep that sector of the timber industry afloat, all for the employment of a very small number of jobs.
As has already happened in Victoria, the sustainability of timber harvest in NSW has been overtaken by politics, and the NSW Government will shortly need to address the same issue as Victoria, a shortage of timber, because sustainable harvest practices have been ignored. Victoria has addressed that by nationalising the Heyfield Timber Mill. That mill cannot continue to have long-term viability as it will be financially unviable to maintain, because of the lack of timber. The financial losses will be ultimately borne by the community, and the mill will become a dead asset.
NSW faces the same bleak prospects.
But the bleak prospects are even more alarming, given that habitat is currently being wiped out, endangered and vulnerable fauna are being destroyed, and community water supplies are being adversely impacted. This is all happening at a time when Governments world-wide are encouraging habitat retention and regeneration. Even Tony Abbott supported the creation of a Green Corp to increase tree plantings to absorb green house gases such as carbon dioxide. The NSW State Government is doing exactly the reverse.
The NSW Government must look at the big picture, and allow the use of State Forests as Carbon banks. It has been estimated in Victoria that if that approach was followed, VicForests operational performance would reverse from an $80 million annual loss to a $100 million annual profit. In other words it is more profitable not to harvest State Forests than it is to continue with the current policies.
All governments need to develop long-term policies to protect the environment for future generations, rather than pursue irrational short-term policies, which result in financial loss, and loss of habitat and fauna, while accelerating climate change and global warming. At the end of your term as Premier, please don’t let this scenario be your legacy to the State of NSW, and future generations.
View the letter as a PDF: Forest Forum Letter to Premier 2017-10-16 (91KB)
NPA Forests for All Plan https://npansw.org/what-we-
Great Southern Forest Campaign seeks to protect all of the 430,000 hectares of public native forests of the Southern and Eden Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) regions following the expiry of the RFAs. The GSF is a partnership between NPA Far South Coast Branch, the South East Region Conservation Alliance and the National Trust NSW. Forests For All seeks to build a broad alliance of regional communities, health, environment, business and outdoor recreation groups.
Understorey Trailer http://www.
Subscribe to Nature News re upcoming actions and events. https://npansw.org/npa/take-
Carbon Storage http://press.anu.edu.au/
Tourism re Unspoilt Eurobodalla
National Trust Register of Significant Trees http://trusttrees.org.au/
Forestry Website Extract and links
Forestry Corporation welcomes stakeholder input to inform our detailed operational planning. In particular, we are keen to:
• Identify whether stakeholders have any specific concern in relation to particular compartments
• Ensure stakeholders have access to the Harvest Plans and answer any questions they have about these documents
• Identify any additional issues, both on the forest and along potential log haulage routes, for consideration prior to operations commencing
Interested stakeholders can email firstname.lastname@example.org to make contact with a forester and discuss the Plan of Operations or an individual Harvest Plan in more detail.
Media Contact Pages
Riot Act Canberra https://the-riotact.com/ Canberra Online News
Politician Contact Pages phone, request appointment with staff, email, write letters, facebook
Andrew Constance re Bega – Office in Bega https://www.andrewconstance.
Anne Sudmalis re Gilmore Office in Nowra https://www.annsudmalismp.
Mike Kelly re Eden-Monaro – Office in Queanbeyan and Bega.
Dawn Walker NSW MLA http://www.dawnwalker.org.au/
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian https://www.gladys.com.au/ https://www.facebook.com/
Nature Conservation Council has been campaigning the Premier about clearing laws in August.
This meeting calls on the NSW Government to:
1. Cease Logging Mogo State Forest
Immediately cease logging the Mogo State Forest until a professionally based pre logging review is undertaken and assessed, given the known presence of both the Vulnerable (Commonwealth) Greater Glider and the Vulnerable (NSW) Yellow Bellied Glider, which have so far have been ignored.
2. Existing Claytons Review
Note it is an insult to the South Coast community, for NSW Forestry to prepare a highly inadequate and Claytons pre logging review, when the review was constrained to an 18 hour budget for a 400 ha Forest, and when reviewers in that forest were limited to a few tracks because of night-time occupational health and safety concerns, while searching for nocturnal species.
3. National Parks Association ‘Forests for All Plan’
Support the aims and rationale of National Parks Association’s ‘FORESTS FOR ALL PLAN’, and calls on the NSW Government to commit to the implementation of the PLAN as a more equitable and sustainable use of public native forests across NSW.
The Eurobodalla Shire’s Environment Team are commended for their efforts to reduce the numbers of rabbits across the Shire. Rabbit warrens have been destroyed and fumigated in Tuross, Long Beach and South Durras.
The new Korean strain of Calcivirus (RHDV-K5) was released across nearly every part of the Shire. Post release monitoring has shown an excellent uptake, with a rapid decline in rabbit numbers.
Follow-up work to the virus release and the fumigation has been in progress, with nocturnal low caliber shooting by an expert being the primary method of control.
Gippsland in Victoria is still reeling from the loss of hundreds of jobs following the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station. And then months later the largest hardwood sawmill in Australia, also based in Gippsland, indicates it is closing.
The Heyfield Timber Mill is located in the small Gippsland town of Heyfield which has a population of about 2000. The largest industry in town is the Mill employing 250 workers. The mill is operated by Australian Sustainable Hardwood, owned by the Hermal Group.
The mill’s operator has been locked in a dispute with the Victorian Government and the State-owned logging company, VicForests, over the quantity of timber which could be supplied to the mill.
In March 2017 the company announced the mill’s closure, saying the shutdown would begin in August. This in turn led to a series of workers’ protests at Victoria’s State Parliament.
The dispute arose because of the shortage of timber. VicForests intended to slash the mill’s timber supply from 130,000 cubic metres to 80,000 cubic metres in 2017, and to 60,000 cubic metres in 2018 and again in 2019, because of dwindling log supplies. ASH (Australian Sustainable Hardwood) demanded the 130,000 cubic metres to maintain viability. (The original unsigned contract was to supply between 125,000 and 155,000 cubic metres of timber every year from 1 July 2017, until 30 June 2034.)
The hardwood processed at the mill grew in the environmentally sensitive central highlands. The management of the Victorian forests, like those in NSW, have been characterised by over-logging. Add to that the destruction of 26% (some reports say 40%) of the remaining harvestable supply in the 2009 Black Saturday Victorian bushfires,and it is little wonder there is a supply crisis.
The regeneration rate for mountain ash is over 80 years, and over 110 years for timber in the mixed forests.
To save the 250 mill jobs, the Victorian Government reached an in principle agreement with ASH to buy the Heyfield Mill and keep the sawmill operating and keep the existing workers employed. An initial offer of $40 million was rejected and speculation is that the final price was about $50 million (subject to due diligence)
Commentators have said that despite the Government’s assurances, job losses will be inevitable because the supply of timber simply cannot be maintained.
The mountain ash forests are also home to the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum, – Victoria’s emblem. Industry maintains that large areas of forest are tied up to protecting the Leadbeater’s possum and in turn have led to the declining timber supply.
However, the Wilderness Society have said that just 3,000 ha (1.2%) of forest, allocated to VicForests for logging ash forest in Victoria’s east, was set aside for the Leadbeater’s possum. It was equivalent to 0.16 % of the 1.82 million hectares of state forest allocated to VicForests for logging all forests across eastern Victoria.
The Wilderness Society is proposing the establishment of a Great Forest National Park, arguing that preserving the mountain ash trees (which are also an endangered species) and facilitating tourism would boost jobs and the State’s economy more than the timber mills.
It has also been suggested to VicForests that they would be far more profitable leaving the trees standing and marketing the forests as carbon offsets.
Since the logging operation commenced, volunteer members of the community have been surveying the Mogo Forest, searching for fauna that would be adversely affected by the logging activities. They were also noting the presence of habitat and feed trees. The volunteers included members of Coastwatchers, Wires, and the National Parks Association of NSW.
They found the presence of the Greater Glider (Petauroides volans) – Endangered in NSW, and the Yellow-bellied Glider (Petaurus australis) – Vulnerable in NSW, in the Mogo State Forest, in the area being logged.
They also found wombat burrows. It is critical that logging contractors are aware of the presence of wombats and their burrows to avoid heavy machinery crushing the animals. Continue reading
For many years there have been many environmental battles to reduce or halt the logging of State Forests on the South Coast of NSW. They have never ended. The campaigns have been run by dedicated members of the community particularly further south in the Bega Shire, and both ends of Eurobodalla, where the logging has been more concentrated. The conflicts have now moved into the Mogo region.
The Coastwatchers Association has stepped up to organise a Forest Forum meeting later in August in Moruya, to allow members, and the community, to voice their concerns.
NSW Forestry has been increasing logging intensity around Batemans Bay and recently commenced logging in the Mogo State Forest on the eastern side of the Princes Highway. Continue reading
In May this year I notified Coastwatchers members of the death of Martyn Phillips, a long serving member of the Association and an extremely capable past President. Martyn died after losing his second battle with cancer.
Martyn had a critical role in the management of the Association over a 16 year period, and the Association acknowledges that enormous voluntary contribution with extreme gratitude.
He joined the Management Committee in 1991-92, and with his obvious leadership skills, became Vice President the next year. He continued in that role until 1994-95 when he became the Association’s President for 2 years. He stepped back for a year before becoming President again in 1997-98. Martyn stepped up again for the Presidency in 2004-05, and remained on the Management Committee until 2008.
Before moving to the Deua Valley, Martyn had served in the Royal Australian Air Force. He joined in 1970, and this job took him and Jan to Darwin where Kate was born. Later in the 1970’s they were posted to Malaysia where Amy was born. After various postings in Australia, he was seconded to the United States Air Force for three years in the early 1980s.
Around this time, in his mid 30’s Martyn became seriously ill for the first time. He was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma cancer, which spread to other parts of his body. He fought this aggressively, taking every treatment offered, including the removal of most of his right lung.
In 1985 Martyn retired from the Air Force and with his family moved to their property in the Deua Valley, which he and Jan had bought 15 years earlier. The move and change in lifestyle did wonders, and he was cured of his cancer.
He became a member of the Coastwatchers Association as he appreciated deeply the special environmental qualities of the region. He volunteered many hours and much expertise to keeping the environment the way it was for future generations. He was particularly involved in the protection of Deua Old Growth Forests from logging, having areas removed and transferred from NSW Forestry’s control to the Deua National Park. His work on the extension of National Parks in southern NSW was publically acknowledged by the NSW Government in 2000.
Martyn has been described in correspondence to me by members “as a lovely bloke”, “a good man”, “a very fine man”. He was a gentleman.
On behalf of the Association I pass on my deepest condolences to Jan and Martyn’s two daughters, Kate and Amy.
John Perkins, President, The Coastwatchers Association
The Association has farewelled two of its greatest supporters and environmental warriors, with the departure of Maureen and Jim Baker in early July, moving closer to Sydney to be nearer to their family.
Maureen and Jim have been members of the Coastwatchers Association for over 25 years, and both have given unflinching support and service to the Association. Maureen was a Committee member for four years from 1994-95 to 1997-98.
Maureen was a member of the Coastwatchers Environment Fund Committee for over a decade, and her sound advice and critical approach will be missed.
Jim and Maureen were not only involved with the Coastwatchers Association, but founded the highly successful Tuross Lakes Preservation Group in the early 1990s. The Group became one of the inaugural ‘Landcare’ groups to operate in the Eurobodalla Shire.
Maureen and Jim were also involved with Shire wide Estuary Management Committees as well at with NPWS Committees. Maureen served on the Eurobodalla Shire’s Coastal Management Advisory Committee. In between all these activities, Maureen completed an environmental degree in her retirement.
For over 25 years Jim and Maureen have campaigned strongly to protect community and environmental issues, dedicating thousands of hours of voluntary time towards advocacy and on-ground environmental works.
Maureen received an Order of Australia Medal for her volunteer efforts and her dedicated commitment to the environment.
The Association thanks Maureen and Jim for their enormous voluntary contribution to environmental issues in the South Coast region, and wishes them every success in their second attempt at retirement.
To date there has been no update on the new coastal management legislation. The following information is on the Planning website:
The reference to the Wharf Road submerged land was removed and the revised CZMP (Coastal Zone Management Plan) was unanimously adopted by Council on May 9th 2017 with the following recommendation,
For those members who plan ahead, the Executive is planning to hold the Annual General Meeting this year on Saturday September 23rd at 2:00pm at the Tomakin Community Hall. This will be finalised at the next Committee meeting on Wednesday July 5th 2017.
The Committee is also considering holding a Special General Meeting after the AGM to formally adopt the new NSW model Constitution for Incorporated Associations, which NSW Fair Trading introduced in August 2016.
Those who know the greater glider have a vivid way of describing it: like a flying possum crossed with a Koala.
About the size of a garden variety possum, but with a looped tail of up to 60 centimetres long and membranes that extend from its elbows to its ankles, it is Australia’s largest marsupial.
Scientists say it may not continue to be: it is headed for extinction. Two decades ago greater gliders were abundant up the east coast, but a combination of land clearing, logging and a rising threat of bushfires linked to climate change has triggered an 80% population crash.
Though they glide up to 100 metres, greater gliders are docile animals. They typically spend their lives within an area of three or four hectares – about the size of a couple of football fields. When danger arrives, as it did catastrophically in the (Victorian) central highland on Black Sunday, they have little capacity to cope. Continue reading
The final report entitled “Independent Review into the Future Stability of the National Electricity Market”, was handed to the Commonwealth Government in the last week. The Review known as the Finkel Report was prepared by the Review Panel of 5 experts and chaired by the Chief Scientist Professor Alan Finkel.
The following reviews of the Report were presented in the Conversation on 9 July 2017.
With so much focus on the design of a mechanism to support a shift towards lower-emissions generation, it is easy to forget that the primary purpose of the Review, commissioned following the “system black” event in South Australia on September 28, 2016, was “to develop a national reform blueprint to maintain energy security and reliability”. It is thus appropriate that security and reliability are the first topics to be addressed in the main body of the report. Continue reading
The first of two stages of a 300MW solar farm – Australia’s biggest – has begun construction near Port Augusta in South Australia.
The first two stages, totalling 220MW, of the Bungala Project is being built around 12km from Port Augusta, where the state’s last col fired generator closed last May.
Bungala will be built “battery storage ready” and will also likely be the first major solar farm to participate in Australia’s FCAS market (frequency control and ancillary services), using SMA inverter technology to provide voltage control for the grid.
The submerged and tidal land at Wharf Road Batemans Bay (400 metres from the bridge) has, indirectly and directly, been on Council Agendas for over 30 years. It is shortly to be progressed when the NSW Minister for Planning and Environment Certifies the Council’s ‘Wharf Road Coastal Zone Management Plan’.
This decision will have implications into the future, both with the surrounding land in Wharf Road, and other land in this Shire and elsewhere, particularly if global warming leads to sea level rise.
In supporting the Plan, the Minister said that the Plan seeks to return this precinct to public ownership and restore unimpeded public beach and foreshore access to these margins, which will be of significant benefit to the local community. Continue reading
This is an edited report by the ABC’s consumer affairs reporter Amy Bainbridge from ABC News on April 13th 2017.
An energy consultant said 91 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems were installed during the month.
He said the surge started to build in 2016, and has continued to skyrocket in 2017.
Queensland led the way, installing 25 MW of capacity, which is enough to power about 5.500 homes and businesses.
Installations were also up in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.
Installation figures in Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT were flat.
The recent blackouts in South Australia were a factor in the rising demand for panels, as solar power and storage are used to offset or protect against grid blackouts.
After nearly two and a half years of inquiries and approvals, the Dargues Reef Gold Mine will shortly commence operation.
Not: EPBC Act 1999 means the Commonwealth Government’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
November 2014 – Press reports indicate Unity Mining is seeking to modify its 2011 DA approval
January 2015 – Unity Mining submits Modification 3 to Development Approval provided to NSW Government for preliminary comment
February 24th 2015 – Coastwatchers makes presentation to Eurobodalla Shire Council
July 9th 2015 – Unity Mining’s DA Mod 3 placed on Public Exhibition by NSW Planning for 6 weeks
August 25th 2015 – Coastwatchers makes further Presentation to Eurobodalla Shire Council
August 26th 2015 – Close of Public Exhibition for Mod 3. Coastwatchers lodges submission with NSW planning
September 4th 2015 – Coastwatchers lodges 1st Submission with Commonwealth Department of Environment re endangered species under EPBC Act 1999
October 27th 2015 – Commonwealth Determination issues Approval under EPBC Act 1999
November 15th 2015 – Unity responds to NSW Planning Public Submissions and at the same time withdraws on-site processing using cyanide.
December 1st 2015 – Public Exhibition of Unity Response
December 9th 2015 – Takeover proposal by PYBAR and Diversified Minerals of Unity Mining
January 3rd 2016 – Close of Public Exhibition re Unity’s Response. Coastwatchers lodges Submission to NSW Planning
June 22nd 2016 – NSW Planning makes Determination to refer matter to the NSW Planning Assessment Commission
July 26th 2016 – Planning Assessment Hearing in Braidwood. Coastwatchers makes Presentation
August 10th 2016 – Planning Assessment Commission determines an Approval for the Project
August 17th 2016 – Coastwatchers lodge 2nd Submission to Commonwealth Department of Environment re endangered species under EPBC Act 1999
February 17th 2017 – Commonwealth issues Determination of Conditional Approval under EPBC Act. The conditions are that the mine proponents must prepare a Construction Environmental Management Plan and a Water Management Plan.
The Commonwealth Minister for the Environment is yet to give final approval under the EPBC Act to these two plans.
Work cannot proceed until these Plans have been approved. The Association wrote to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment requesting the Plans be placed on public exhibition when finalised.
All the Coastwatchers submissions and presentations appear below in this blog.
Under NSW Planning legislation there has to be a Dargues Reef Mine Community Consultative Committee (CCC). It has been operating for many years.
Membership has been reviewed by the independent Chairman of the CCC and the NSW Minister for Planning, and Coastwatchers secretary Richard Roberts has been appointed as an environmental representative on the CCC.
Many Landcare volunteers in the Eurobodalla Shire have been targeting the invasive weed Cassia in the past few weeks. The flowers are bright yellow, so they are very conspicuous. If you have them in the garden or bush, please remove them.
Cassia will very quickly invade native ecosystems, particularly in coastal areas. It is a very fast growing plant that can suppress the growth of native species and displace them. Cassia produces large quantities of long living seed pods.
Cassia invades waterways, gardens, disturbed sites, waste areas, roadsides, closed forests, forest margins and urban bushland. Most Landcare groups prioritise this invasive weed.
Roaming domestic cats are a significant conservation issue because they may hunt, harass and compete with wildlife. They hunt, among other things, birds, lizards, frogs and many native mammals including bandicoots and gliders in the Eurobodalla. There are also concerns about unrestrained roaming domestic cats because of risks to cat welfare, including cats fighting and getting injured.
Due to the threat that domestic cats post to wildlife, Eurobodalla Shire Council is implementing a proactive program to reduce domestic cat predation on native animals. This program will support cat owners to minimise the impacts that domestic cat predation has on local wildlife.
Eurobodalla Shire Council is offering a free CatBib to all cat owners who have a microchipped and registered cat (or cats) in eligible areas.
All cat owners living in these areas are entitled to a free CatBib: Bimbimbie, Bergalia, Bingie, Broulee, Congo, Deura River Valley, Guerilla Bay, Lilli Pilli, Maloney’s Beach, Meringo, Moruya Heads, Mossy Point, Mystery Bay, Nelligen, Potato Point, Rosedale, Runnyford, South Durras.
These villages and hamlets have been specifically selected as it is where the greatest number of native wildlife live and is therefore the initial priority of this program.
Murdoch University Research has scientifically proven that CatBibs work to stop over 80% of cats from catching birds and reduce small animal predation by almost half. The CatBib acts as a barrier between the cat and its prey. When the cat pounces, the bib gets in the way, which allows the split second needed for escape. It also serves as a brighly coloured visual warning as the cat creeps up on its victim.
The CatBib is attached to the cat’s collar and hangs loosely over the cat’s chest. It works by gently interfering with the precise timing, and coordination a cat needs for successful bird catching. The CatBib comes between the cat and the bird just at the last moment. It doesn’t interfere with any of the cat’s other activities, The CatBib only affects the cat’s ability to catch birds (and reduces cats from fighting). A cat wearing a CatBib can run, jump, climp trees, eat, sleep, scratch and groom.
If you are interested in receiving a free CatBib and would like further information about the program and eligibility, please contact Courtney Fink-Downes at Eurobodalla Shire Council on 4474 7493.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) recently appointed (March 2017) Audrey Zibelman, an American, as its new CEO.
Zibelman was one of the leaders of New York’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” following the 2012 Hurricane Sandy, in which thousands of New York residents were left without power for weeks.
The reforms increased energy security through a range of measures, including smart grid technology, battery storage and distributed generation strategically placed throughout its network.
This appointment could signal the biggest shift in culture and technology of the AEMO, which is responsible for the operation of Australia’s mains grid. It also comes at a time when the Finkel Review is only months away from reporting.
The AEMO has been criticised for its slow responses to adapting policy to renewable energy and other new technologies. This was highlighted after the South Australian blackout when renewables were blamed for the problem. Withing a week AEMO required new standards be introduced throughout Australia, which would avoid wind-farms automatically turning off early. The technology had been in use in Europe for over a decade!
For those wanting more information, listen to an interview between Audrey Zibelman and Geraldine Doogue on ABC Radio National on April 1st 2015.
This new strain of calicivirus is highly
contagious, and can kill rabbits within
24 hours. It is spread by flies, when the
flies are attracted to dying rabbits.
Those flies then carry that virus into the healthy rabbit population.
The release of this new strain is expected to be successful in the Eurobodalla because the climate is cool and wet. When the original strain of calcivirus was released in 1996 in Eurobodalla, it had an initial impact, then waned as resistance within the rabbit population built.
The new strain is more contagious and has been released in a coordinated plan. The 1996 release was undermined when some locals released the virus into the region unlawfully, reducing the impact from a coordinated release.
Rabbits nationally are Australia’s worst vertebrate pest species, causing up to $200 million in lost agricultural production and contributing to the destruction of native vegetation.
The Eurobodalla Council will follow the re-introduction of the calicivirus with contract shooters to target remaining rabbits. These shooters operate during the nights with telescopic air rifles and night vision equipment. Safety is a key consideration.
It is hoped that the rabbit population is significantly reduced, especially in hotspots like Durras and Broulee. This will assist with the regeneration of Landcare plantings as well as protecting remnant dune plant species.
These minutes will remain in draft form until they are accepted at the next Management Committee meeting.
CW MC Draft Minutes 12_04_17 (133KB Docx)
The Coastwatchers Association Incorporated (Coastwatchers) is the leading community environmental and conservation group serving the South Coast of NSW. Coastwatchers works principally in the Shire of Eurobodalla from South Durras to Wallaga Lake, (and including the major towns of Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma) but also works with community groups in the bordering Shires of Shoalhaven (north), Bega (south) and Palerang (west).
Coastwatchers is a not-for-profit community environment and conservation group that has served the South Coast of NSW since its formation in 1983 and its incorporation in 1986.It is listed on the Register of Environmental Organisations and has tax-deductible-gift-recipient status for its public fund, the Coastwatchers Environment Fund.
Coastwatchers aims to protect the local environment, and preserve the integrity of the ecological systems of the NSW South Coast. For 38 years it has worked on the protection of forests and other local ecosystems, and helped to steer local development in a direction that least threatens local plant and animal species and communities.
Welcome to our website. We aim to provide information and resources in this website such that it can be used as a significant community resource. We welcome comments or suggested improvements (click the envelope icon on the right to email).
Use the menu above to navigate our site, or scroll down to see the latest additions to our site.
I, MIKE SMITH, as the then acting Assistant Secretary, Department of the Environment and Energy (the Department), then delegate for the Minister for the Environment and Energy (the Minister), provide this statement of reasons for my decision of 17 February 2017, under subsection 130 (1) and section 133 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act), to approve the proposed action by Big Island Mining Pty Ltd (the proponent) to expand the gold mining operation at the existing Dargues Gold Mine (approved as EPBC 2010/5770), located at Majors Creek, New South Wales [as described in EPBC Act referral 2015/7539; variation request received 16 September 2015 and accepted 23 October 2015] (the proposed action) (see Annexure B).
Eurobodalla Council is aiming to source 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and reduce its energy emissions 80 per cent by 2030.
Council’s new draft Emissions Reduction Plan outlines high-impact cost-effective actions to reduce Council’s greenhouse gas emissions over the next four years.
The draft plan was unanimously supported by councillors at Tuesday’s Council meeting, where it was resolved to place the plan on public exhibition to seek community feedback.
It builds on the achievements of Council’s Greenhouse Action Plan 2012-2017, which delivered savings of more than $1 million and 5,100 tonnes of CO2 per year in completed emissions reduction projects.
Activities proposed in the new draft plan include completing the LED street light upgrade, exploring ways to use methane from landfill gas extraction, investigating large-scale solar, battery storage and other renewable energy options, facilitating electric car charging infrastructure and developing a Council Climate Adaptation Strategy.
Council’s Sustainability Coordinator Mark Shorter said the plan helped position Council to capitalise on emerging clean technology opportunities.
“The draft Emissions Reduction Plan charts an ambitious but achievable course for Council to continue to cut emissions and energy costs,” he said.
“We have achieved some excellent results so far and demonstrated the financial and environmental benefits from emissions reduction projects.
“We encourage the community to review the plan and make a submission within the next four weeks.”
Copies of the draft Plan will be available at Eurobodalla’s three libraries, the customer service centre in Moruya and on Council’s website www.esc.nsw.gov.au from Wednesday 12 April to 10 May 2017.
The Association opposed the 2010 Development Application regarding the Dargues Reef Gold Mine by Big Island Mining Pty Ltd in 2010, and again opposed the Modification to that Development Approval in 2015. That experience highlighted some major deficiencies with the development approval process.
If it is not too late, the Association requests these deficiencies be considered by Government, and be included into the NSW Planning Law changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
CW Submission NSW Planning 2017-03-31 (94KB PDF)
A number of Coastwatchers members participated in the annual Australia Clean Up Day in the Eurobodalla Shire.
Australians are the second highest producers of waste per person in the world, with an estimated 7 billion cigarette butts and 50 million plastic bags littered every year.
At a local level it is certainly positive to remove unsightly litter. The conservation catch cry rings true here “think globally act locally.”
As state and federal politicians duke it out over energy policy and investment, the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market, led by Australia’s chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel, remains on track to release its final report mid-year, having gathered more than 360 submissions from industry stakeholders and observers.
After a dramatic week of surprise investment announcements and live-toair spats, the Review, which was established in October off the back of South Australia’s state-wide blackout in September, remains the nation’s best hope at establishing a bi-partisan blueprint for national power security, as well as achieving a considered reexamination of the rules governing Australia’s energy markets. And while the submissions to the Review, the majority of which were made public on Friday, reflect the many different views and agendas of a broad range of industry players and stakeholders, there are two strikingly common themes:
a) Consistent, bipartisan policy on both energy and climate policy is crucial to progress; and
b) We need to move on from the fossil fuels vs renewables debate.
“Currently there is a disconnect between political party aspirations and state aspirations for the energy markets which is creating confusion resulting in a hiatus in actions to address the problems being faced,” said the submission of the Major Energy Users, whose member companies include some of the biggest manufacturers on the NEM.
“If emissions reduction policies impact the energy markets, it becomes essential that the emissions reductions policies are integrated into energy policy; further, emissions policy needs to reflect the ability of the energy markets to accommodate the emissions policy.
Inevitably, this means that energy market policy and emissions policy must be aligned,” it says. “Stable, long term and predictable policy is critical to attract the investment to address the current issues and undertake the transition,” says the submission from the Australian Aluminium Council.
The Australia Institute uses its submission to express the hope that the Finkel Review can “steer Australia back towards a policy path that looks after the interests of energy consumers and the environment. “With political stability and support the RET can rapidly increase investment in renewables and aid a transition to a lowemissions energy system,” TAI says. “We hope the Finkel review can provide firm direction towards a renewable future for Australia’s energy systems.”
And the Australian Energy Regulator makes a similar plea: “There is an urgent need for energy and emissions reduction policy to be better integrated,” the AER submission says. “This needs to happen at the overarching policy level. Ultimately, policy makers will need to balance objectives of emissions reduction and energy security and affordability, but this can only happen effectively if the interrelationships between emissions reduction policy and energy policy are well understood.”
Finkel, himself, has said the nearly 400 submissions, alongside the insights gained from consultations in Australia and internationally, will help inform the development of a “comprehensive blueprint” for government. “The breadth and depth of these submissions is a mark of the community’s determination to help shape the future of our electricity sector,” he said in comments on Friday. “It is also reflective of the message the Review Panel has received from the outset: a nation like Australia can and must rise to the challenges we face.
Notably, though, he points out that the energy market experts that he and two other panel members met with in Europe and the US were coming from a place that was “well advanced” in managing the policy and technology driven changes transforming their electricity systems.
Some such experts, including Californian EV and battery maker, Tesla, and New York based blockchain microgrid start-up LO3 Energy, were among those who contributed submissions to the Review.
“LO3 Energy’s view is that we are currently only at the very beginning of market and grid architecture changes that will begin to take place in an exponential fashion over the next 3 to 5 years,” the company said in its submission.
“We believe the grid will need to align with transactive energy principles, where consumption, production and the transportation of energy will selforganise according to economic efficiencies.
“The regulatory structure would also need to change, to be aligned with these principles. Market participants would need to be rewarded for of maximising the efficiency of energy production, storage, etc, and therefore should earn returns based on increasing the efficiency, resiliency or adaptive nature of the grid.
“As such, the power markets and utility industry will be faced with having to embrace and eventually adopt new ways of thinking, operating and competing,” LO3 Energy said.
Many Australians are totally disheartened with the political impasse and policy inertia in Australia. In turn this leads to significant disrespect for the elected politicians at both Federal and State level. Talk to them in private and their aspirations are commendable, combine them together, and they are no more than a meek shadow of those aspirations.
The fact they call themselves “a political class” is a euphemism, and helps explain why they are so out of touch. Many believe their IQ jumps 20 points when they enter Parliament. Most have evolved as staffers or trade union officials, and few have had ‘real’ jobs especially in policy and social areas. They raise their hands and voices as “a class”, because the rigidity of nonconformity, is political extinction.
A recent analysis of Australian and Norwegian politics, sought to answer the question as to why their had been so much greater unity both within and between parties in the post war period up until the mid 1970s. The answer was simple – many members of all parties had fought or been prisoners together in WWII, and their survival depended on cooperation, and unity. Post their retirement there appears to be no common bond to unite the “class”, not even the future of this nation.
Add to this the emasculation of the Public Services, and the country has what Laura Tingle calls “Policy Amnesia”. The result is a lack of review, an entrenchment of policy bias, and the complete lack of development of ideas and directions that will enhance the well being of the generations that will follow, rather than the member’s survival at the next election.
The GFC was a wake up call for the world, but not in Australia as we cruised through the crisis, more from luck than sound planning. We are certainly a lucky country, but at some time that can and will change.
Then the politicians will have to perform, and if their performances to date are any indication, it will be a disaster for this country, as the wardrobe of policy options and expertise will be empty.
In recent years, energy policy in this country, has been described by commentators and experts as ‘shambolic’. There is little serious energy policy direction from governments. Meanwhile pollution continues at an unprecedented pace with little to no consideration of the future legacy that is being left.
The recent failures in the electricity grids to South Australia and NSW, the shortages of gas, when Australia will shortly be the largest gas exporter to the world, and the cheap political point scoring by politicians at any opportunity, is a complete disgrace.
The Finkel Review will certainly try and lay a policy road map into the future of energy in this country. But whether our politicians are capable of stepping up is concerningly doubtful.
The NCC has just released a report titled ‘PARADISE LOST’. The report shows that, far from ensuring no loss in biodiversity, offsetting rules are pushing the endangered plants and animals they’re supposed to protect, closer to extinction.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF REPORT
Biodiversity is fundamental to our wellbeing and prosperity because it provides the basic requirements of life and underpins our economy. Our bushland and native animals are integral to our national identity, an essential part of what makes Australia and Australians unique.
Biodiversity in NSW, however, is in steady decline. Almost 80 species of plants and animals have become extinct in the state since Europeans arrived, and there are currently a further 999 threatened with extinction, including 59% of all mammals, 34% of amphibians and 30% of birds. Clearing of native vegetation and habitat modification are the greatest threats to the survival of the great majority of species on the threatened list. After 200 years of settlement, NSW has lost almost half of its bushland through land clearing and only 9% of that which is left is in good condition.
The continuing loss of biodiversity in NSW poses a significant challenge for governments who have a responsibility to protect species and ecosystems and a desire to promote economic growth and create jobs by allowing land clearing for urban development, infrastructure, agriculture, mining and other major projects. State and federal governments in Australia, following the lead of governments around the world, have embraced biodiversity offsetting in a belief that it can resolve this conundrum and deliver growth that is ecologically sustainable. In theory, offsetting achieves this by allowing the loss of biodiversity values at a development site on the condition that biodiversity values at offset sites are protected and enhanced, ensuring there is no net loss of values across all sites.
The NSW Government has used biodiversity offsetting for more than a decade as an adjunct to land clearing, planning and threatened species conservation laws. The government is poised to significantly expand its use through the introduction of a Biodiversity Offsets Methodology (BAM) that is a central pillar of its new biodiversity conservation and landclearing laws, including a new Biodiversity Conservation Act and Local Land Services Amendment Act. This report provides a timely review of the performance of biodiversity offsets policies in NSW and a critical appraisal of the Draft Biodiversity Assessment Methodology that the government proposes to introduce to supersede them.
KEY FINDINGS OF REPORT
1. Biodiversity offsetting schemes in NSW have failed to deliver the promised outcomes. The performance of five existing offsets schemes was examined through the lens of eight Case Studies in the state’s northwest, southwest, Hunter Valley, and in Sydney. These Case Studies demonstrated that biodiversity offsetting in NSW is failing to deliver the environmental outcomes governments and policy makers have promised. In one Case Study (Boggabri/Maules Creek), biodiversity outcomes were deemed to be “Disastrous”. In five others, outcomes were “Poor” (Warkworth, Mount Owen, Huntlee, Albury, Kellyville). Only two Case Studies were found to have resulted in “Adequate” biodiversity outcomes (Namoi, Wagga Wagga), while none resulted in outcomes deemed “Good”.
2. Biodiversity offsetting schemes in NSW have failed to deliver the promised outcomes A review of the key features of the five biodiversity offset schemes in operation in NSW since 2005 found the later models contained fewer best-practice principles and standards than the earlier ones. Schemes were judged on their inclusion of eight features essential for positive environmental outcomes. Only the first offsets scheme (the Environmental Outcomes Assessment Methodology under the NativeVegetation Act) contained all eight features. The Biodiversity Offsets Policy for Major Projects introduced by the Baird government in 2014 contained only one.
3. The Draft Biodiversity Assessment Methodology contains fewer bestpractice principles and standards than any previous scheme and will likely deliver worse environmental outcomes. Many of the weaknesses and few of the strengths of earlier offsets schemes have been carried forward into the new Biodiversity Conservation Act and Draft Biodiversity Assessment Methodology, which the government intends to implement in 2017. The government is proceeding with this model despite warnings from leading scientists, conservationists and lawyers who have identified many concerns. For example:
• Clear objectives for protecting biodiversity are lacking
• There is no consideration of impacts on water quality, salinity and soil quality
• It does not provide absolute protection (red flags or ‘no-go zones) for areas of high conservation value
• The like-for-like principle is undermined
• Supplementary measures are allowed in lieu of genuine offsets
• Mine site rehabilitation can be used as an offset credit
• Developers can pay money into a fund rather than find an appropriate offset site
• Offset obligations can be ‘discounted’ under the discretion of the Minister
• Offset areas are not guaranteed protection in perpetuity
• The new scheme is unlikely to meet Federal standards.
Biodiversity offsets schemes in NSW are failing to deliver the environmental outcomes governments and policy makers have promised and the design and performance of these schemes is declining.
The proposed Draft Biodiversity Offsets Methodology (BAM) sets lower standards and drifts further from best practice than the underperforming schemes it is intended to replace and will consequently be less effective as a conservation measure. Implementing the BAM will in fact add extinction pressures to the very species and ecological communities offsetting is supposed to protect by facilitating the more rapid and widespread destruction of threatened species habitat across NSW.
The report makes a series of recommendations.
The full ‘PARADISE LOST’. report can be found at:
Coastwatchers recently made two submissions to the NSW Government regarding the preparation of a “NSW Koala Strategy” and what is known as SEPP 44, a State Environmental Policy covering Koala habitat.
Only the “NSW Koala Strategy” is considered in this report.
The Government has estimated that Koala numbers in NSW have declined by 26% over the past 15-21 years. It is clear that if that rate of decline continues without significant intervention, by 2050 Koalas will be near extinct in the State.
The Government commissioned a review of the decline in Koala numbers in NSW by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer. That process occurred between March and December 2016. There were seven public information sessions, five in the north of the State, one in Sydney and one in the south at Bega.
The Chief Scientist’s principal recommendation was that a NSW Koala Strategy be developed to stabilise, then increase koala numbers.
The detailed history of Koalas in the Shire of Eurobodalla is extremely deficient. There was clearly a resident koala population in the Shire when Europeans settled on the South Coast of NSW in the 1800s. It has been reported that there was a growth in the koala population in the Shire until around the mid 1850s, attributed to the European impact on Aboriginal activities and dingo numbers.
With European settlement increasing in the second half of the 19th Century, koala numbers declined rapidly Shire-wide, leaving remnant populations in various locations. The decline in numbers was mainly attributed to the clearing of agricultural land by European settlers.
Unfortunately, much of that land was prime Koala habitat, which was characterised by high nutrition vegetation (and low toxin levels), mostly along the fertile river valleys. There were also other issues such as disease and hunting for food, especially in the depressions. A koala skin tanning factory existed in Ulladulla and other parts of SE NSW.
Drought, increasing rural and urban development, road transport and more mechanised forestry techniques, have all contributed to the loss of Koala habitat in this area and the consequent de-population, during the 20th Century.
By 2000 the koala population in the Eurobodalla Shire was, by any measure, extinct. There are records of the odd koala in search of a breeding group. However, the ongoing loss of habitat, especially in the State Forests, has been considered the greatest contributor to the decline in Koala numbers.
The last confirmed sighting of a Koala was at Nerrigundah in 2013. There is no data of the current number of koalas in the Eurobodalla Shire, whether on private land, NSW Forestry land or the National Parks.
In the adjacent Bega Valley Shire, a known koala population exists in the Bermagui-Murrah, Mumbulla and Tanja regions. The population has been well documented, with the number of known koalas being less than 60.
Three State Forests, the Murrah, Mumbulla and Tanja, together with the southern half of Bermagui State Forest, were reclassified by the NSW Government in early 2016, as the Murrah Flora Reserve.
There is also believed to be a small population in the Kooraban National Park near Dignams Creek (15km south of Narooma), which is also within the Bega Valley Shire, and adjacent to the boundary of the Eurobodalla Shire.
Coastwatchers Commissioned Reports
The Coastwatchers Association has been involved with developing Koala Recovery Strategies in the Eurobodalla Shire for a number of years. The Association commissioned and funded research through its independently administered Coastwatchers Environment Fund. The project was led by Dr Keith Joliffe, a retired Canberra scientific researcher.
During his studies he produced three reports which were provided directly to all stakeholder agencies in this region and the State Government.
The first was the Eurobodalla Koala Discussion Paper prepared in March 2011. This report concluded that koala presence and koala habitat issues in the Eurobodalla were objectively unknown, and a full independent study was warranted.
This Discussion Paper was followed by Habitat Assessment and Koala Revival Prospects in the Eurobodalla NSW – A Pilot Study, January 2013. The final report, in 2013, was the Eurobodalla Koala Recovery Strategy – 2014 to 2026.
In developing the NSW Koala Strategy, the Coastwatchers considers that these reports need to be considered to assist in the development of that Strategy. The Association considers the findings and approach of the reports prepared by Dr Joliffe st al for the Eurobodalla Region would be of great assistance to the NSW Government as it embarks on the preparation of its own strategy.
When preparing the NSW Koala Strategy it is crucial the NSW Government understands why the previous NSW Government prepared Koala Recovery Strategy of 2008 failed.
That “Recovery Plan for the Koalas” was prepared by the Office of Environment and Heritage in November 2008, but was never adequately implemented, and fell from the Government’s radar as a priority.
There were turf wars between the various NSW Government agencies, plus the lack of will by some of those agencies to take cooperative action, to implement the Strategy. That is why the present predicament exists, with the NSW koala populations continuing to decline. A huge failure.
Clearly the NSW Government has demonstrated that if it cannot sustain existing populations, it has no capacity to recover previous populations of koalas such as those that were in the Eurobodalla Shire.
If the 2008 agency rivalry continues into this 2017 NSW Koala Strategy, then that decline in koala numbers will continue, and no doubt trend to near extinction across the State.
Finally the Association requested the NSW Government to review the “business model” of NSW Forestry, and face up to the reality that hardwood logging is highly unprofitable.
Instead of operating at a financial loss in most years, NSW needs to profit from the forests by NOT LOGGING. Simply accept carbon credit payments under the Emissions Reduction Fund scheme, and turn a financial drain into a major financial benefit for all people in NSW, the environment and, in particular, the Koala.
The Association also requested that the “NSW Koala Strategy” be placed on public exhibition prior to its implementation.
People can explore them from the water, but landing is prohibited. The NPWS personnel are permitted to undertake invasive weed control, and survey work on nesting sea birds.
Due to their shape, the central plateau is surrounded by rock platforms. Many of these islands are termed “old hat” islands.
These coastal islands are of high ecological significance to burrowing and nesting sea birds such as the Little Penguin. These sea birds use very few places on the mainland, because of the existence of predators such as foxes, cats and dogs.
The President of the Coastwatchers Association, John Perkins, has joined calls from a number of environmental organisations calling on the Commonwealth Government to undertake a full environmental assessment before proceeding with the upgrade of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electricity Scheme.
He also said that the proposal had to be financially viable. It was essential to review alternate strategies such as major battery storage as proposed for South Australia and Victoria.
The assumption underlying pumped hydro is based on there being a price differential between off peak and peak electricity prices. This differential must be sufficient to meet the cost of recycling water back above the turbines. If that differential reduces because of, say, the introduction of big battery storage, then Snowy 2 will not be viable.
John Perkins said before any work proceeds, it is critical that a thorough and independent environmental assessment be made. The allocation of $500,000 for the technical feasibility study, ironically by ARENA, the organisation Abbott tried to close, will be entirely inadequate to review environmental issues as well. That presumably will be considered in the planning assessment process.
The Coastwatchers Association has been involved with the development of Koala Recovery Startegies in the Eurobodalla Shire for a number of years. The Association commissioned and funded research through its independently administered ‘Coastwatchers Environment Fund’. The project was led by Dr Keith Joliffe, a retired Canberra scientific researcher.
During his studies he produced three reports, published online by the Coastwatchers Association (in the Archive at coastwatchers.org.au ), and these reports were provided directly to all stakeholder agencies in this area and the State Government.
The detailed history of Koalas in the Shire of Eurobodalla is extremely deficient. there was clearly a resident Koala population in the Shire when Europeans settled the South Coast of NSW in the 1800s. It has been reported that there was growth in the koala population in the Shire until around the mid-1850s, attributed to the European impact on Aboriginal activities and dingo numbers.
CW Submission Koala Strategy 2017-03-03 (169KB PDF)
On the early evening of Wednesday, February 8, electricity supply to some 90,000 households and businesses in South Australia was cut off for up to an hour. Two days later, all electricity consumers in New South Wales were warned the same could happen to them. It didn’t, but apparently only because supply was cut to the Tomago aluminium smelter instead. In Queensland, it was suggested consumers might also be at risk over the two following days, even though it was a weekend, and again on Monday, February 13. What is going on? The first point to note is that these were all very hot days. This meant that electricity demand for air conditioning and refrigeration was very high. On February 8, Adelaide recorded its highest February maximum temperature since 2014. On February 10, western Sydney recorded its highest ever February maximum, and then broke this record the very next day.
Brisbane posted its highest ever February maximum on February 13. That said, the peak electricity demand in both SA and NSW was some way below the historical maximum, which in both states occurred during a heatwave on January 31 and February 1, 2011. In Queensland it was below the record reached last month, on January 18. Regardless of all this, shouldn’t the electricity industry be able to anticipate such extreme days, and have a plan to ensure that consumers’ needs are met at all times?
Much has already been said and written about the reasons for the industry’s failure, or near failure, to do so on these days. But almost all of this has focused on minute-by-minute details of the events themselves, without considering the bigger picture.
The wider issue is that the electricity market’s rules, written two decades ago, are not flexible enough to build a reliable grid for the 21st century.
In an electricity supply system, such as Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM), the amount of electricity supplied must precisely match the amount being consumed in every second of every year, and always at the right voltage and frequency. This is a big challenge – literally, considering that the NEM covers an area stretching from Cairns in the north, to Port Lincoln in the west and beyond Hobart in the south.
Continent-sized electricity grids like this are sometimes described as the world’s largest and most complex machines. They require not only constant maintenance but also regular and careful planning to ensure they can meet new demands and incorporate new technologies, while keeping overall costs as low as possible. All of this has to happen without ever interrupting the secure and reliable supply of electricity throughout the grid.
Until the 1990s, this was the responsibility of publicly owned state electricity commissions, answerable to their state governments. But since the industry was comprehensively restructured from the mid-1990s onwards, individual states now have almost no direct responsibility for any aspect of electricity supply.
Electricity is now generated mainly by private-sector companies, while the grid itself is managed by federally appointed regulators. State governments’ role is confined to one of shared oversight and high-level policy development, through the COAG Energy Council.
This market-driven, quasi-federal regime is underpinned by the National Electricity Rules, a highly detailed and prescriptive document that runs to well over 1,000 pages. This is necessary to ensure that the grid runs safely and reliably at all times, and to minimise opportunities for profiteering.
The downside is that these rules are inflexible, hard to amend, and unable to anticipate changes in technology or economic circumstances.
Besides governing the grid’s day-to-day operations, the rules specify processes aimed at ensuring that “the market” makes the most sensible investments in new generation and transmission capacity. These investments need to be optimal in terms of technical characteristics, timing and cost.
To borrow a phrase from the prime minister, the rules are not agile and innovative enough to keep up. When they were drawn up in the mid-1990s, electricity came almost exclusively from coal and gas. Today we have a changing mix of new supply technologies, and a much more uncertain investment environment.
Neither can the rules ensure that the closure of old, unreliable and increasingly expensive coal-fired power stations will occur in a way that is most efficient for the grid as a whole, rather than most expedient for individual owners. (About 3.6 gigawatts of capacity, spread across all four mainland NEM states and equalling more than 14% of current coal power capacity, has been closed since 2011; this will increase to 5.4GW and 22% when Hazelwood closes next month.) Finally, one of the biggest drivers of change in the NEM over the past decade has been the construction of new wind and solar generation, driven by the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme. Yet this scheme stands completely outside the NEM rules.
The Australian Energy Markets Commission – effectively the custodian of the rules – has been adamant that climate policy, the reason for the RET, must be treated as an external perturbation, to which the NEM must adjust while making as few changes as possible to its basic architecture. On several occasions over recent years the commission has successfully blocked proposals to broaden the terms of the rules by amending the National Electricity Objective to include an environmental goal of boosting renewable energy and reducing greenhouse emissions.
Events in every state market over the past year have shown that the electricity market’s problems run much deeper than the environmental question. Indeed, they go right to the core of the NEM’s reason for existence, which is to keep the lights on. A fundamental review is surely long overdue.
The most urgent task will be identifying what needs to be done in the short term to ensure that next summer, with Hazelwood closed, peak demands can be met without more load shedding. Possible actions may include establishing firm contracts with major users, such as aluminium smelters, to make large but brief reductions in consumption, in exchange for appropriate compensation. Another option may be paying some gas generators to be available at short notice, if required; this would not be cheap, as it would presumably require contingency gas supply contracts to be in place.
The most important tasks will address the longer term. Ultimately we need a grid that can supply enough electricity throughout the year, including the highest peaks, while ensuring security and stability at all times, and that emissions fall fast enough to help meet Australia’s climate targets.
Most members were under the impression that all approvals for the Dargues Reef Mine were finalised, and that mining was set to commence, as the Miner was saying.
However, that was not correct and the Association has been monitoring the Commonwealth website for this decision. It was made last Friday 17 February 2017. This approval was made by the Commonwealth Government’s powers covering threatened species listed in the Commonwealth EPBC Act (The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999).
This is a fascinating decision for two reasons. First it is a conditional approval, and second, for the first time in 16 years with this project, an approval agency has taken into account DOWNSTREAM impacts. This is a monumental change and is to be wholeheartedly welcomed. Up until now the NSW and Commonwealth Governments have been only interested in an a few kilometres around the mine site.
The Association has been arguing that the major problems that beset mines the world over, are when tailings dams leak or burst and the water, sediment and chemicals burst into the environment. Remember just 16 months ago BHPs tailings dam in Brazil burst killing 17 people and smothering entire villages. The sludge travelled 650 km to the Atlantic Ocean killing everything in its path. The list goes on and on, with 1 -2 major failures every year somewhere in the world. At last the light bulb was switched on for the Commonwealth Government. Maybe there is insufficient power in NSW to light another bulb.
Dargues Reef Gold Mine Commonwealth Approval (995KB PDF)
No mining can commence until the conditions of this approval are met and the Minister has signed off his approval. The Conditions are that the Miner must prepare:
1. A Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) to protect downstream listed threatened species and communities, and
2. A Water Management Plan (WMP) be prepared to protect downstream listed threatened species and communities.
In its August 2016 submission regarding Commonwealth approvals relating to the EPBC Act the, Coastwatchers Association recommended:
The Coastwatchers Association Inc recommends to the Australian Government that the project NOT be approved under the Environmental Protection and Conservation Act 1999, given the potential catastrophic impacts of the Dargues Reef Gold Mine on the Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable flora and fauna downstream from the mine. Spillages and Tailings Dam failures are a worldwide characteristic of mining, especially mining at the top of a 700 meter escarpment whose river system runs through the Deua National Park, and is the source of the Eurobodalla Shire’s water supply. For once Government appears to have listened. The Association will be considering options in the near future.
The Environmental Defenders Office has provided detailed advice on the proposed changes to NSW Planning Laws.
The NSW Government is proposing to amend State planning laws – updating the Act’s objects and structure, clearer public participation requirements and timeframes, reforms to state and local decision-making panels, speeding up decisions on large and small development, and putting another nail in the coffin of the former ‘Part 3A’ major projects pathway.
The community has until Friday 31 March 2017 to comment (extended deadline). The Government will then introduce a revised Bill to Parliament.
The NSW Government is still allowing the logging of native forests, including in some areas old growth forests, here on the South Coast of NSW. This article was submitted by John Perkins to remind members of the critical significance of old trees.
As you all know trees provide resources for wildlife – for foraging, shelter, roosting and nesting. However, trees which contain hollows are particularly important for those species of animals, including many threatened species, which specifically require hollows for shelter and nesting. Any decrease in the availability and natural diversity of hollows can lead to significant loss of hollow dependent animal species, diversity and abundance. In some cases it may result in local extinction of these species.
Where older trees with hollows die out or are felled, and regrowth trees prevail, animal diversity is drastically reduced.
The continued viability of the Yellow Belly Glider (Petaurus australis) is totally reliant on large areas of unfragmented forests, with suitable feed trees and tree hollows.
The Greater Glider (Petauroides volans) is particularly sensitive to native forest logging, as they have relatively small home ranges. In research carried out by CSIRO (Hugh Tyndale-Biscoe) in the 1960s, they found the Greater Glider stayed faithful to their home range even after severe logging, and died in situ, rather than move to adjacent undisturbed forest. Massive losses occurred.
Large old trees are invaluable. Many are 200 to 800 years old, and some are even older. Such trees represent the vestiges of once-intact ecosystems and provide some sense of what the landscape was like before the arrival of the Europeans.
By virtue of their size, older trees provide more food and nesting resources than younger trees. For example a 300 year old tree with a height of 20 metres and a trunk diameter of 1.5 metres has a bark surface area of approximately 94 square metres. By contrast a 20 year old tree with a trunk surface area of 20 cm and a height of 15 metres has a bark surface area of just 9 square metres. The larger older tree is therefore equivalent to 10 smaller trees, at the same time decreasing the risk of predation, as wildlife need nottravel from one tree to the next as often.
Big, old, healthy trees produce more nectar, foliage and fruits than younger trees. These highly productive nectar sources are vital to the survival of some wildlife species, providing energy to nectar feeders such as the Regent Honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia) and the Musk Lorrikeet (Glossopsitta concinna). Other species can rely on insects that are dependent on the nectar, such as the Brush-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale rapoatafa).
At the Council meeting on 14 February 2017, the Council in a 5:4 vote agreed to give preference to investing with financial institutions that do not invest in, or finance, the fossil fuel industry. Councillors McGinlay, Brown, Thomson, Constable and Deputy Mayor Anthony Mayne supported this motion, and the Coastwatchers congratulate them on this positive action.
The decision is subject to:
– the investment being compliant with Council’s current ‘Investment Policy’,
– the investment rate of interest being equivalent to other similar investments
that may be on offer to Council at the time of investment, and
– a briefing be provided to Councillors at the end of the 2016-17 financial year to assess the results of this moderate divestment strategy.
The aim is to have two-thirds of the Council’s investments lodged with financial institutions that have a stated intent, and/or track record of noninvestment in the fossil fuel industry, by the end of the 2016-17 financial year. Already one third of investments are in this category. Hopefully this will increase to 100% within 2 years.
Six big changes to the Planning Act in 2017 (and three missed opportunities).
The NSW Government is proposing to amend our State planning laws – updating the Act’s objects and structure, clearer public participation requirements and timeframes, reforms to state and local decision-making panels, speeding up decisions on large and small development, and putting another nail in the coffin of former “Part 3A” major projects pathway.
As you are all aware atmospheric CO2 concentrations are rising at an exponential rate, reaching 405.25 in December 2016.
Last Saturday the ‘Friends of the Botanic Gardens’ had a world expert, Tony Haymet, address their meeting. Not only was it alarming to hear what he had to say about CO2 but he also addressed Ocean Warming, a subject which is little flagged.
The contents of the speech were alarming, and most departing guests said “I will be dead” but “I fear for my future grand children”. Later in the year Tony will address a Coastwatchers meeting on this topic.
Two charts are presented. They need no explanations. The Ocean Warming chart will be presented in a future Newsletter.
The first NASA chart shows atmospheric CO2 levels in recent years, with the average seasonal cycle removed. The second NASA chart shows CO2 levels during the last three glacial cycles, as reconstructed from ice cores.
DIRECT CARBON DIOXIDE ATMOSPHERIC MEASUREMENTS 2005-PRESENT
Data Source: Monthly measurements (average seasonal cycle removed. Credit NOAA
(Note: The 350.org movement considers the atmospheric concentration 350ppm of CO2 as a safe upper limit.)
PROXY (INDIRECT) CARBON DIOXIDE ATMOSPHERIC MEASUREMENTS
Data Source: Reconstruction from ice cores. Credit NOAA
People collapse, buildings collapse, economies collapse and even entire human civilizations collapse. Collapse is also common in the natural world – animal populations and ecosystems collapse. These collapses have the greatest impact on us when they affect resources our industries depend on, leaving ecosystems in tatters and sometimes ruining local economies. In a new paper, I look at two natural resource industries – fisheries and forestry – that are highly susceptible to collapse.
From the infamous 1980s collapse of the Canadian cod industry to the apparent imminent collapse of the Heyfield sawmill in southern Victoria, we can see a recurring pattern. And by getting better at predicting this pattern, we might be able to avoid collapse in the future.
The stages of collapse
In fisheries, collapse follows a familiar pathway, which has up to eight stages. In a 1993 report for the US Marine Mammal Commission on harvesting ocean resources, L.M. Talbot described these stages
In some cases, regulators attempt to manage the fishery as fishers intensify their efforts. Examples include putting in place quotas and economic subsidies, or reducing the fishing capacity of the fleets.
However, these are often belated and ineffective. This is particularly so given uncertainty about the fishing resource, lack of information on the ecology of the target species, and the fact that an industry with vested interests will lobby hard to protect those interests.
Subsidies at these stages – such as tax breaks and/or fuel rebates – may mean that fishing becomes artificially profitable. Fishers may remain in the industry and continue to overinvest to obtain a greater share of a dwindling resource.
Many forestry industries around the world show similar stages.
Native forest harvesting in Australia is a highly capital-intensive industry. It uses heavy machinery that costs a lot to purchase, leading to high interest repayments. Such efficient harvesting may not only employ relatively few people, but also outstrip the amount of timber that can be sustainably harvested (like stage four in fisheries collapse). Significant amounts of timber and pulpwood need to be processed continuously to pay the interest and other bills for equipment (stage seven). Moreover, logging may continue even though it is highly uneconomic to do so (stage eight) and other industries that are damaged by logging (such as the water and tourism industries) are significantly more economically lucrative.
Why do industries overharvest?
Fisheries and forestry often allocate greater harvest limits than the ecosystem can produce without declining.
One key reason this happens is that fish or timber allocations often don’t account for losses from natural events. For example, the mountain ash forests of Victoria rely on severe wildfires to regenerate. They are also extensively logged for paper and timber production. Yet the organisation responsible for scheduling of logging in these forests (VicForests) does not account for losses due to fire when calculating how much timber can be harvested. Major fires in 2009 badly damaged more than 52,000 hectares of this forest. But environmental accounting analyses indicate there has been relatively little change in sustained yield allocation since these fires.
Yet, modelling suggests that, over 80 years, wildfire will damage 45% of the forest estate. This amount should therefore should not be included as timber available for logging. Another driver of the problem of resource over-commitment can be gaming, where stock availability and direct employment are deliberately overstated. This may be to secure the status and influence of a given institution with government, or for other reasons such as leverage in negotiations over access to resources.
The autobiography of Julia Gillard, the former Australian prime minister, suggests this occurred during debates over the fate of forests in Tasmania, alleging that Forestry Tasmania overstated forest available for harvest. Forestry Tasmania denied these allegations.
What can we do?
Early intervention in fisheries and forestry industries can prevent ecosystem and industry collapse. We also need to better ways to assess resources, including accounting for losses of resources due to natural disturbances.
However, in some cases resources have been so heavily over-committed that industry collapse is virtually inevitable. For example, environmental accounting work in the wet forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria suggests very little sawlog resource is left as a result of many decades of overcutting and associated wildfire. Clearfell logging makes these forests more prone to particularly severe fires.
The collapse of the sawlog industry is highly likely, even if there is no fire. This is clear from the pleas from sawmills for access to further forest resources – even when such extra resources basically do not exist. Now the industry needs to transition to plantations for paper production and for timber (82% of all sawn timber already comes from plantations in the state). Alternative industries like tourism that employ far more people and contribute more to the economy must be fostered. There are many examples to draw on – New Zealand is one of many. When governments know in advance about likely industry collapse, then it is incumbent upon them to intervene earlier and help foster transitions to new (and often more lucrative) industries. This ensures that workers can find jobs in new sectors, and the transition is less painful for the community and less costly for taxpayers. Failure to do this is unethical.
The closure of the Hazelwood power station in Victoria is a classic example of a lack of planning for industry transition. The need to close Hazelwood was discussed in formal reports by the former State Electricity Commission more than 25 years ago. The need to transition the native forest industry to plantations is equally clear and must be done as a matter of urgency.
The Eurobodalla Shire Council has nearly completed a project, which maps, using GIS mapping, weeds along the coastal zone of the Shire. From this survey priorities are determined and appropriate management procedures introduced. Sea Spurge is one of the weeds, which has been identified.
The mapping project has not been completed for beaches south of Glass House rocks. However, the mapping is complete from Durras Lake in the north to Glasshouse Rocks in the south. It is anticipated that the Shire wide mapping project will be completed within two months.
Management options for the infestations include using Landcare volunteers, or professional contractors where the infestation is significant.
Sea Spurge has been found on most beaches in the Shire, and in many cases it is controllable by hand pulling. Members are urged to keep an eye out for this week and pull it out, and preferably place in a bag for disposal.
When bushwalker Jon Marsden- Smedley first started telling people of his plan to rid southwest Tasmania’s coast of Sea Spurge (Euphorbia paralius) an invasive weed—he was told he was dreaming.
Last week the Sea Spurge Action Teams SPRATS which was formed in 2007, were awarded a FROGGATT AWARD by the Invasive Species Council, for 10 years work eradicating sea spurge from Tasmania’s rugged southwest coastline.
During this period more than 150 remote area volunteers removed 14.2 million sea purge plants from 600 km of coastline contributing 6,000 hours of labour valued at over $1.4 million. Now, 99.5% of the treated area is sea spurge free. Areas have also been treated for Marram Grass, and two of the region’s only blackberry infestations. Volunteers undertook trips of between eight days and three weeks, arriving by foot, helicopter, boat or fixed-wing aircraft. Methods used include hand weeding, ground and aerial spraying. SPRATS is a WildCare group working in partnership with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service.
Both Sea Spurge and Marram Grass are recognised as threats to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. They can change the shape and structure of dune and beach environments by displacing native plants, they adversely impact on coastal herbfields, grasslands, shrublands, shorebird habitats and marsupial feeding areas.
Submission to ESC re Broulee Residential Zones DCP (100KB PDF, opens in a new tab)
The Commonwealth Chief scientist Alan Finkel who chairs a five-member panel, presented a preliminary report to the Commonwealth Government on renewable energy, in early December 2016.
He outlined the need for serious and urgent market reform in Australia’s energy markets. He said the shift to renewable energy was unstoppable, and was being lead by the consumers, not the industry or government. He pointed out that the market structure and supporting policies were not in place to assist this transition.
He noted that consumers were being hit by soaring grid costs, at a time when they have technologies available to reduce their bills. He said these technologies, such as rooftop solar and battery storage, are the “antithesis of the centralised energy model”.
The Finkel report calmly notes these changes, and the solutions, in contrast to the defensive claims (for coal) of many politicians. The Report indicates that the lack of policy was a major reason South Australia was caught short in its blackout of September 28 2016 and why other States may also be at risk. He said the answer is to look forward to new technologies and system designs, not to old centralised thinking.
The Finkel preliminary review highlights the inconvenient truth that Australia’s policy settings are lacking and are not sufficient to meet Australia’s modest Paris climate targets.
The report notes that the Renewable Energy Target does not extend or act beyond 2020, and its effectiveness has been undermined by policy instability and uncertainty driven by numerous reviews.
It says options exist to reduce emissions. These included the emissions intensity scheme ruled out by the Government in late 2016, and carbon price scrapped by the Abbott Government.
The Finkel review looks at the issue of system security and reliability, particularly in the light of recent events in South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. He said systems are available to effectively integrate variable renewable electricity generators into the electricity grid, but the existing systems will have to change.
The Report notes that the transition to a lower emissions economy “cannot be reversed”, and residential and commercial consumers are at the centre of this change, with distributed energy resources (such as solar and storage) allowing them to become investors and electricity traders – with or without the National Electricity Market.
Finkel’s report has similar conclusions to the findings of recent reports from CSIRO and Energy Networks Australia. These reports suggest that half of all Australia’s power needs will come from consumers by 2050.
It is clear the Commonwealth Government needs to get into step.
It was a surprise to many in the community in early November 2016, when the French energy giant Engie (one third owned by the French Government) announced the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria. The power station was owned 72% by Engie and 28% by Mitsui, and the announcement indicated it was to be closed on 31 March 2017. The Victorian Government stood back apparently unsurprised. Why – where was the grant to keep it afloat, as there was being offered to keep Alcoa alive at Portland with a $1.1 billion rescue.
From an environmental point of view, the decision was most welcome. Hazelwood has been considered the dirtiest power station in Australia, it was also close to being the dirtiest power station in the developed world because of the poor quality of the brown coal it burnt. It was nearly 50 years old, and had been supplying annually 20- 25% of Victoria’s power needs and 5% of Australia’s energy demands.
Various press reports indicated that the plant was simply too old, maybe a euphemism for too inefficient. Technological change had by-passed it when the State Government owned it, as it had failed to reinvest and modernize. It was doomed two decades after it was built.
That said it has been a great financial investment, reaping its owners high returns, firstly because of the low capital value accepted by the State Government in the initial sale relative to its earnings, but more importantly because they could pollute at will, as there was no price on their pollution, no ETS, no carbon tax.
So if it was such a financial success, why close it down? Two events in Victoria go some way to explain the decision.
Recently, Alcoa closed its Aluminum smelter at Geelong. Alcoa also closed its tiny power station at Anglesea, which was a defacto emergency power generator, with a direct transmission line to the smelter as a backup. After its announcement to close the smelter it attempted to sell the power station. However a condition of sale imposed by the Victorian Government was that filters had to be installed to reduce the carbon and sulphur dioxide gases. The cost was to be over $150 million. There were no buyers so Alcoa was forced to close the power station. It will demolish it, presumably pushing it into the coalmine, then rehabilitate the site. This set a precedent.
The second major event was the fire at the Hazelwood mine on the 9 February 2014, which burnt for over 45 days sending smoke and ash over Morwell and the surrounding district. There were a number of official reports prepared after that fire, which made recommendations for the owner of the mine and the State Government.
Engie when announcing the closure, indicated that owning Hazelwood, did not fit with the clean and green image Engie sought for its long term business model, and that its reputation was being damaged by retaining Hazelwood.
They also indicated that had tried to sell
Hazelwood, and like Alcoa could not find a buyer. History seems to be repeating itself.
They also indicated that it was not economic to clean-up the pollution in the power station.
But finding out what clean-up was required and by whom, has proven to be an impossible exercise. And that is where the facts stop. In the future the full story will become public. It can be speculated that like Alcoa, the Victorian Government may have required filters on the 8 chimneys. If it cost $150 million for one chimney at Anglesea, and that is for one small chimney, then 8 huge chimneys at Hazelwood, would cost at least $1.2 billion, but more likely over $2 billion.
As with Alcoa, if this scenario has merit, then the decision to close Hazelwood would then appear to be logical.
Earlier this month the Association made a detailed submission to NSW Planning, regarding the Department’s recently released draft MC SEPP. The Association supported the thrust of the SEPP, along with a number of recommended changes.
The draft MC SEPP is a vital component of the new Coastal Management Act 2016. The planning requirements of this legislation will impact on all future developments in the ‘Coastal Zone’.
Whether an individual is involved as a landowner, a developer, a State or Local Government (coastal) official, or conservationist or member of the public, these changes are significant and need to be studied. They will cause confusion until they are understood.
Coastwatchers representative on the
Eurobodalla Shire Council’s Coastal and Environmental Management Advisory Committee (CEMAC), Reina Hill, has been involved with the progress of these changes since their conception.
The Association understands the importance of effective coastal management to protect the natural processes that shape the environment, and to maintain public access, amenity and use of coastal areas into the future.
The SEPP gives equal importance to social, economic and environmental interests, and will eventually replace older policies and SEPP’s when finalised. The MC SEPP specifies that the ‘Coastal Zone’, will have four distinct coastal management areas.
(i) Coastal Wetlands and Littoral Rain Forest Area
(ii) Coastal Environment Area
(iii) Coastal Use Area, and the
(iv) Coastal Vulnerability Area
This allows the specific objectives and diverse environments and interests of each category to be individually managed, each having its own specific development controls. When complete, the mapping overlays for all four management areas will be an extremely useful management tool for planners and approval authorities, in determining development applications for land use within the Coastal Zone.
In the event of any inconsistency between Local Planning controls and the CM SEPP, the CM SEPP will prevail.
Over the past few years the NSW Government has embarked on a significant reduction in staff levels of the NPWS to achieve budgetary savings.
The latest annual report for the Office of Environment and Heritage (which includes NPWS) shows the cost of staff redundancies was nearly $19 million in 2015 and $10.5 million in 2016.
At the end of 2016, in the latest move to reduce staff levels, it has been announced that senior staffing levels within the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service will be reduced from 14 Regional Managers to 8, with many experienced staff being encouraged to take redundancy.
Most of these Managers have 20-30 years experience, and a number have indicated they will leave the Service and not recontest the new positions.
At the same time as they are reducing costs by staff reductions, the NPWS is searching for commercial revenue opportunities to profit from their unique and special assets, particularly around Sydney Harbour. These sites would include Goat and Shark Island in Sydney Harbour, the Scheyville National Park near Windsor, and Middle Head, with its rich heritage of historic military fortifications. The Service has described Middle Head as a “superb lookout spot in Sydney Harbour National Park” able to be used for “commercial and public events such as live performances, festivals and product launches.”
The danger to many is that the commercialization of these Parks will put heritage and conservation priorities at risk as well significantly damage the natural environment, the very reason National Parks were established in the first instance.
Clearly, the Parks and in turn the Government have a financial problem. It has over 850 reserves and parks, and thousands of degrading heritage sites. The current funding level is insufficient to manage and conserve these assets.
But if commercialization comes at the cost of conservation and heritage management and restricted public access, then the policy will be a failure.
Traditionally, most government agencies are entirely ill equipped to operate in a commercial manner. Decision making is inflexible, and there will be an ongoing need for capital expenditure. Commercial operators will require roads and parking area, toilets, electricity, water and sewerage systems, maybe jetties. The cost squeeze will worsen, and some bright MP will ultimately come up with bright idea of selling the Parks, especially around Sydney Harbour.
Governments have to recognize and acknowledge that some things in life are ‘public goods’ and can only survive with public funding. In the current economic climate with the ‘free marketers’ in control, that seems an impossible position.
The resident Pied Oystercatchers (Haematopus longirostris) at the Batemans Bay Marina, have nested on the sandflats for many years. The species is on the NSW endangered species list. However, their welcome is about to finish, because of their exposure to predators, curious humans, and more development in the area.
Their nesting site is located in one of the most urban parts of Batemans Bay and attracts many visitors. The NPWS guard the site with an electric fence.
The oystercatchers nesting site is on one of the best nesting sand-flats in the local area. It is a supermarket for foraging shorebirds – ideal for pipis, beach worms and crustaceans.
Coastwatchers understands the Development Approval for the dredging of the area east of the marina precinct (in the area of the endangered oystercatchers) had a limitation placed on the duration of the operation so it could only be carried on during the winter months of June and July, outside the breeding season.
This window was extended to end in September 2016, despite the expert advice contained in the original application. Spring is the start of the breeding season.
The resident pair of Pied Oystercatchers, have had a challenging and sad time over this summer nesting season. A 3 egg nest was laid in late September 2016. 35 days later at the end of October, three chicks hatched.
On the second day these chicks were caught up in textile fencing, which was part of the development works occurring at the Marina site. They were rescued by shorebird volunteers but disappeared the following day. In November, the pair re-nested with a 2 egg nest.
Because of a predators and humans at this site, an electric fence was installed by the NPWS around this nesting area to protect them. If these problems were not bad enough, high tides at hatching time in December came close to destroying the site, and crippled the electric charger through water inundation.
By Christmas only a single Pied Oystercatcher chick had survived. If it continues to survive it will fledge in early February. In the next month it seems highly unlikely it will survive the curiosity of tourists, the predators, the development work and the destruction of its habitat.
When its time for the Pied Oystercatchers parents to leave, and with an enormous amount of luck take the surviving chick with them, the Batemans Bay Marina may well lose an icon. This species cannot survive in this area, and it is hoped they find an alternate nesting site, despite their homing instincts.
It is an enormous disappointment for those involved in shorebird protection, and this Association, that a condition of the Marina development did not impose a condition requiring the construction of an isolated nesting site island within the Marina development, and that the development work was approved into the nesting season.
Coastwatchers submission of 12th January 2017 to NSW Govt re Draft Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy
CW Submission CMSEPP 2017-01-12 (147KB PDF, opens in a new tab).
The new Coastal Management Act 2016 communicates the NSW Government’s vision for coastal management. It reflects the vital natural, social, cultural and economic values of our coastal areas and promotes the principles of ecologically sustainable development in managing these values. The Act passed through parliament in May, but may not be assented to until January 2017 when the new SEPP is finalised.
The new Coastal Management Manual will include a synthesis of recent science relating to sea level rise and guidance on understanding coastal and estuarine erosion, and provide advice on inundation risk assessments. It will support councils to identify and assess coastal hazards, including those associated with sea level rise. It will also consolidate a number of existing guidelines and fill any critical gaps that have been identified with Councils.
The new Coastal Management state Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) is due to be finalised when coastal areas are defined and should be announced very soon. The new Coastal Management Act divides the coastal zone into four coastal management areas. These four areas are:
The four areas are defined in the new Act and will be mapped as part of the new Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP). This legislation will establish clear, outcome-oriented management objectives for each area to ensure councils apply appropriate management tools and development controls.
The NSW Coastal Council will have an on-going function to commission technical or scientific reviews on matters such as sea level rise and provide advice to the Minister as required and will form part of the best available scientific information for councils to use to determine a sea level rise scenario to adopt for planning purposes.
NSW Government Support for Coastal Councils. The Government has committed support for local government with the technical advice they need to make credible balanced and sensible decisions and will be consistent with discussions with the Chief Scientist and Engineer. It will not prescribe state-wide sea level rise benchmarks, as decisions on associated risks need to consider local circumstances, including both the likelihood and consequences of sea level rise, the amount and type of development at risk and local social, economic and environmental factors, and will involve consultation with local communities.
The NSW Government will provide financial assistance of $83.6m to Councils for coastal management over the next five years from 2016/17 to 2020/21. This includes $69m of new funding and $14.6m to be redirected from existing coastal management spending. The Government has committed to a further $5m each year following 2021 to continue support for the coastal management framework.
A Coastal Management Plan for the Eurobodalla will be prepared under the new legislative arrangements due for completion in 2017.
The new NSW Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) is expected to be exhibited soon.
The new Coastal Management Act will come into force when the SEPP is finalised. ESC work will align with the new Coastal Management Reforms, though it seems that not many of the recommended changes to the Bill were made by the Minister and the Dept and only two of Council’s recommendations were adopted in consideration of Coastal Management Reforms, being:
Eurobodalla Council Flood Studies already undertaken are:
New Council and Mayor It will be interesting to see what happens to the CEMAC under the new Council and how coastal management will be approached in the future, especially as some newly elected councillors have expressed views about Council’s Interim Sea Level Rise Policy as being too draconian and affecting property values.
In reality, Council has little choice but to abide by state legislative requirements and align with the new Coastal Management Reforms.
Clean water is a fundamental right in Australia, and cannot be compromised for the profits of a mining company. The existing fresh water supply must be secured and maintained, not just for today’s community, but for future generations.
In 2010 and again in 2015-16 when the miner was preparing its environmental assessments, the NSW Government only required an assessment covering the impacts and consequences in a small immediate area around the mine site. No consideration was required of the social, environmental and economic risks in the event of an accident or spillage into the downstream river system.
The major concern of the Association with the Dargues Reef mine is with the integrity of the tailings dam, now, in the future, and when the mine is no longer operational. Irrespective of the cause, many mining tailings dams worldwide suffer failures because of events such as intense rainfall, poor design, poor maintenance, poor construction, poor operation and/or poor management.
In July 2015 the Department of Planning and Environment (Planning) exhibited for 6 weeks Unity Mining’s application for Modification 3 and Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Dargues Reef Gold Mine at Majors Creek. This resulted in 417 submissions, 395 from the public, 14 from special interest groups (such as Coastwatchers) and 8 from government.
Of the 395 public submissions 330 objected to the modification. Unity Mining then responded to those submissions. That response included further modifications to its application including the removal of on site cyanide processing.
Planning then re-exhibited the amended application with the amendments, in December 2015. 17 submissions were received 16 of which objected.
Planning considered these submissions, and on 22 June 2016 released its “Environmental Assessment Report”.
“The Department has assessed the modification application in accordance with the requirements of the EP&A Act. The assessment found that the modification would result in some additional water, heritage and biodiversity impacts. However, the Department considers that these additional impacts could be appropriately managed through implementation of the recommended conditions.
The recommended conditions require Unity Mining to comply with a range of strict environmental management, monitoring and reporting conditions, including the preparation of a detailed Water Management Plan in consultation with the EPA, and designing the tailings storage facility in accordance with the DSC (ed. Dam Safety Committee) requirements for a ‘prescribed dam’ under the Dams Safety Act 1978.
The conditions also include obligations for public reporting of environmental monitoring results, regular independent environmental audits, and responding to any complaints from the local community.
As is the case for all mining projects in NSW, the Department and EPA would continue to have a compliance role in monitoring the ongoing environmental performance of the mine and enforcing the conditions of approval.
Should the modification be approved, it would allow Unity Mining to proceed with the next phase of development and realize the economic benefits of the project. These benefits include the creation of up to 100 jobs during construction and 80 jobs during operations, and more than $40 million in capital investment.”
Planning has referred this matter to the NSW PAC, the Planning Assessment Commission. The PAC has the power of the Minister to approve or otherwise, this modification application.
The actual recommendation states
“It is RECOMMENDED that the Planning Assessment Commission, as delegate of the Minister:
– considers the findings and recommendations of this report;
– determines the application under Section 75W; and
– signs the attached Notice of Modification to the project approval (see Appendix A), if the Commission determines to approve the modification.”
Planning Assessment Commission
The three Commissioners who will handle this matter at the PAC are:
Joe Woodward PSM
Professor Zada Lipman
It is understood that the PAC will determine the management of this matter. It is expected that submissions will be called for and/or a public hearing will be held in the near future. Members will be kept informed of developments. Coastwatchers have tried to contact the PAC, and they have not yet returned our calls.
The Department commented on page 22 of their Report on its proposed conditions which were new or amended, “…requiring Unity to:
Response to Proponent’s response to August 2015 Submissions
The proponent’s “Modification 3” application to the NSW Department of Planning fundamentally changed the original 2010 development approval of the project. As a result of these changes, environmental risks were significantly increased. These significant changes included:
South East Local Land Services (724KB .pdf)
Rural Fire Service (851KB .pdf)
You can view a PDF of the submission using this link Submission to the ESC pdf or read below:
In a submission regarding an earlier version of the Eurobodalla Rural Lands Strategy,
the Coastwatchers Association pointed out that change was occurring in every aspect of
life, and will continue to do so. Change has to be embraced not held back. Equally,
Planning legislation has to be flexible to allow for that change. Coastwatchers stated:
“A lot has changed since the Rural LEP was made in 1987. The Shire’s
population has grown immensely, with proportionate increases in the need for
more sustainable land use, wiser use of our catchments and water, and
protection of biodiversity on the land covered by the Rural Lands Strategy.
Unfortunately, many people still do not understand the need for such protection
nor how they benefit from free natural resources.
Numerous studies have revealed how we can do things better and this
knowledge needs to be put into practice. The way our grandparents and parents
managed the land is no longer good enough to ensure a sustainable future for
our grandchildren let alone all the other animals and plants we co-exist with. “
The Strategy Report by Garret Barry Planning Services Pty Ltd, prepared for the
Eurobodalla Shire Council, is a welcome addition to resolving the on-going conflict in
the local community regarding future rural lands zoning particularly the E3 zone.
The Coastwatchers Association finds the report a positive contribution to the debate,
and endorses the thrust of the recommendations. Not everyone will be satisfied, but
they must accept that societies expectations are changing, and planning laws and
regulations introduced over 30 years ago, if not 60 years, must change to meet societies
and governments needs.
The Association considers that the principal issue to be resolved in this Draft Rural
Lands Strategy, is the issue of appropriate zonings in rural land originally zoned E3
(Environmental Management). The Eurobodalla Shire Council in July 2014 resolved that
the E3 zone was inappropriate in general rural areas, and they rejected the use of
‘Biodiversity Overlays’ in the final LEP. Coastwatchers reject that latter position.
Coastwatchers endorses the proposal in this Strategy to zone the E3 land to RU1
Primary Production in combination with Native Vegetation overlays. This is intended
to guard against further habitat loss and threats to biodiversity in the face of subdivision
and development. It will help protect against further declines in native species from
development and subdivision pressure. The Overlays must form part of the Rural LEP.
Coastwatchers also endorses that the zoning of RU1 be only used on the better
agricultural lands. While the Strategy says it is to apply to holdings 100 to 500 ha, there
will be some holdings > 500 ha as well as some < 100 ha and the RU1 zone must also
apply to them.
The use of the RU1 and RU4 zones is also endorsed for smaller holdings as proposed in
The Coastwatchers support the recommendation for the continued use of the E2 zone as
presented in the 2012 LEP. This covers important wetlands, littoral forests and coastal
The Coastwatchers Association requests that besides E2 covering “…wetlands, littoral
forests and coastal protection areas …” the following words be added
“… forests that are of high habitat value and endangered ecological communities …”
In total there are over 50 recommendations in the Consultant’s Strategy. Most of these
have deliberately not been reviewed by Coastwatchers in this submission. Council’s
responses will be of interest and comment can be made at that point. Some involve
matters, which should not be undertaken by Local Government and are the
responsibility of the individual landowners or other agencies such as the NBN or State
Coastwatchers Association Inc
PO Box 521
Office of Environment and Heritage (903KB .pdf)
PRESENTATION BY DR EMMETT O’LOUGHLIN
to the COASTWATCHERS ASSOCIATION AGM,
Saturday 31 Oct 2015
Title: THEY’RE NOT REAL!
(An acknowledgment to Roger Hosking,
the Braidwood weather observer.)
In September 1851 gold was discovered at Araluen, NSW and in October 1851, 4 oz. of gold was discovered at the now Majors Creek road bridge. By December there were 2-3000 diggers in the area working the alluvial and upper weathered granite. By the 1860s the alluvial gold had been worked out. Subsequently the Chinese reworked the area and the mullock heaps.
Reefs were discovered in the late 1860s, but capital was needed to mine the harder rock. Joseph Dargue found the largest reef in 1868. He crushed 200t/week of partly decomposed granite, yielding 3 oz/ton, which declined to ½ to 1/3 oz/t (6-14g/t), at which time it was becoming uneconomic. The deeper gold was 20% free and 80% bound into pyrite (FeS2), and needed non-gravity recovery. Dargue sold out 1872, and by then the shaft was 80 feet deep, and a total of 6,610 ozs had been won.
Ore and Process
Over the next 140 years, there were a series of false starts, involving many companies. Chemical extraction was developed in the 1880s (cyanide). To process the ore, it needed to be crushed to a fine sand size. Gravity and mercury were used for free gold, and floatation to separate the gold-bearing pyrite from crushed granite. The floatation agent was sodium ethyl xanthate, which forms bubbles with gold ore stuck onto them. These were skimmed off as pyrite concentrate and the cyanide dissolved the gold out of concentrate. Xanthates are highly poisonous to aquatic species, as well as mammals. Other chemical processes have been used since 1890s with variable results. Some concentrate was transported to Harden in 1890s, but most ventures were uneconomic even at 2 oz (56g)/t.
Gold price increase
In 1971 the international price of gold was deregulated and the price increased dramatically. In the 1980-2000 period ,a new boom in gold exploration occurred because of the increase in price and the development of the ‘Carbon in Pulp’ extraction method. Otto Exploration and Esso conducted geophysical surveys of the Majors Creek area and in 1974 Alan Jordon obtained a 13 ha mining lease over the Dargues Reef. In 1980 Amdex Mining commenced detailed exploration of the site. However, it was concluded the mine was uneconomic.
Between 1983-87 Canyon Resources conducted extensive regional exploration but failed to find significant new reefs. An EIS was produced during this period, but as the viability was questionable, no development occurred. In late 1986 Horizon Pacific floated a subsidiary Horizon Resources, which began re exploring the area. However, they had management and financial problems and walked away.
In 2001 the mining lease was then transferred from Alan Jordan to Ominco Mining. In 2004 it was acquired by Hiberna Gold (later Moly Mines) which undertook further drilling to at least 400 m and successfully identified a further 310,000 ozs (5-7 g/t). Moly Mines sold to Cortona Resources in July 2007. Drilling continued and mining plans developed. A development application was lodged in 2010 and it was intended to truck concentrate to the mothballed London Victoria mine near Parkes, to avoid environmental concerns with the use of cyanide at Majors Creek.
The DA was approved in September 2011. There were objections lodged to this approval, and these included the ESC, the Coastwatchers Association and SERCA. In December 2011 the ESC withdrew its appeal after receiving assurances regarding runoff control etc. Cortona reached agreement with other objectors and the mining lease was granted in April 2012, with conditions. This was the first gold mining lease issued in NSW in 10 years.
Cortona sought finance and a joint partner with appropriate technical capability. In September 2012 Cortona merged with Unity Mining (previously Bendigo Mining Ltd). In January 2013 site works commenced. There were a series of erosion issues, which resulted in fines from the EPA. In December 2013 Unity announced it was ceasing work to review the project and seek another $70m.
In November 2014 Unity Mining announced it was preparing a 3rd modification, and was proposing to use cyanide on site. In June 2015 an Environmental Assessment for the 3rd modification was released, and the public exhibition period was until 26 August 2014. Over 400 objections were received including the two local government Councils (Eurobodalla and Palerang). Unity Mining and the NSW Government are still considering the application.
Tailings Storage Facility (the dam)
The dam will store waste (crushed granite slurry in 10% xanthate solution). It will also contain heavy metals and sulphides. It is vital that the dam is stable, with no spillage, and no seepage. The tailings dam design is based on ANCOLD (Australian National Committee On Large Dams) recommended guidelines, which have no statutory requirements. Dam design specifications are related mainly to risk of possible deaths in the case of a collapse, and to a lesser extent on environmental impacts. NSW has a Dams Safety Committee and their specifications for dams link risk and dam design. However, their guidelines are based on ANCOLD’s and rely on self-regulation.
The original dam design of Unity Mining was an “upstream” construction in 3 lifts, which was the cheapest method. However the “upstream” method makes the dam prone to collapse in earth tremors by liquefaction (eg in Christchurch and San Francisco). The current modification proposes to change the design to “downstream” construction, which is purported to be safer.
The following points need to be made:
The dam fills by rain plus tailings slurry inflow.
The dam empties by evaporation and decant water recycled to mine.
Running water balance calculations (monthly, but preferably daily) are needed to determine if spillages will ever occur
The only accurate Australian data is historical Bureau of Meteorology data.
The consultants engaged by Unity Mining used incorrect data. Their estimates of rainfall were 30% too low, and evaporation were 60% too high. These errors were picked up by Roger Hosking, the official BOM observer at Braidwood.
Therefore the predictions by Unity Mining’s consultants of no spills from the dam are incorrect. They are not just wrong, but not even in the ballpark. If these are not altered, then any spills will have devastating consequences to all aquatic life in Majors creek and the Duea and Moruya Rivers.
In turn this will have a totally unacceptable impact on town water quality for the 70,000 residents in the Eurobodalla Shire.
Identical errors were present in the original DA. They were not discovered because Unity Mining’s consultant’s documents were never released. As a result the original dam design remains faulty.
It is interesting to note in the EA for the 3rd Modification (and the original DA), that the design for harvestable water was undertaken by different consultants, who used the correct BOM data. Yet nobody at Unity Mining, or more importantly in the State or Local Government picked up the vital differences in the data sets between the two consultants reports.
The proposed design uses a clay layer and neoprene liner to prevent seepage. Seepage barriers can and will be damaged and degraded over time, and become ineffective. Damage is inevitable during construction, and later by animals such as wombats or yabbies.
The design also includes a downstream seepage collection pond, which pumps back seepage into the dam. This is fine during the life of the mine, but what happens after closure when the mine is in ‘care and maintenance’, when nobody is on site to manage issues, and most probably the company no longer exists.
The wastewater level in the dam will frequently exceed the normal operating level after storms. ANCOLD guidelines require this excess be pumped out of Tailings Storage Facilities within 7-14 days. However, there is nowhere for this contaminated waste to go, except into Spring Creek. The likelihood of this eventuality is very high, given the faulty hydrologic design of the dam. Victorian Government Guidelines suggest provision of an emergency overflow dam, kept empty during normal operations, to catch spillages. However, Majors Creek is in NSW not Victoria.
In the preparation of Environmental Impact Statements and Environmental Assessments, there is always the danger that the consultants engaged by the client will prepare advice that the client wants to hear. In the case of Unity Mining at Majors Creek, the inaccurate weather data presented by the consultants has the possibility of completely distorting the end result and the viability of the project.
It can only be hoped that the Planning Assessment Commission and the State Government force Unity Mining to rework its plans so that the final decisions are based on accurate data.
The history of the Dargues Reef Mine has been littered over 150 years with optimism and subsequent failure. The concentrations of gold have always been low and the processing costs high because of the geology. The price of gold is also a factor affecting the mine’s viability as is the availability of finance. Combine these together and the viability of this project remains uncertain.
The Coastwatchers Association Inc. requests that the Dargues Mine proposal as modified by Modification 3 be assessed as a controlled action under sections 18 and 18A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 because of likely significant impacts on threatened species and communities listed as matters of national environmental significance.
The Coastwatchers Association Inc. OBJECTS to the NSW State Government approving the construction of a cyanide treatment plant at the Dargues Reef gold mine at Majors Creek, by Unity Mining Limited through its subsidiary Big Island Mining Pty Ltd.
“This cyanide processing plant must never be approved and the toxicity it will harbour must never be allowed to hang over this community.”
Risk too high, Roberts tells shire councillors, by Emily Barton
This application by the gold mining company Unity Mining Limited is to obtain permission to process gold on site at Majors Creek, using cyanide. Previous development approvals for the mine, provided for the processing of the ore off-site at Parkes or Bendigo, because of concerns regarding pollution of this Shires’s water supply.
Coastwatchers is strongly supportive of the Precautionary Principle and its relevance to the issue of climate change and sea level rise in coastal areas.
The precautionary principle requires a risk averse approach to decision making. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty is not to be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.
Firstly thank you for the opportunity to contribute to a formal public exhibition of a proposal on this issue. It is a long overdue chance for formal input which we have been seeking for over two years.
Coastwatchers’ long-term vision is the re-introduction of Koalas into suitable South Coast forest ecosystems.
Long standing Coastwatchers member Keith Joliffe has produced a report into the feasibility of such a long-term reintroduction into part of the Deua National Park (available for download below).
Bendethera Report (2MB PDF)
Appendix 1: Deua National Park Plant List (482KB Microsoft Excel Worksheet)
Appendix 2: Bendethera-plot-data_all-sheets (119KB Microsoft Excel Worksheet)
Appendix 3: KOALA STATS – Percentages of Eucalypt Species per Forest Type (29KB Microsoft Excel Worksheet)
The Final Eurobodalla Koala Recovery Strategy (41 pages) in now published, coinciding with news of a confirmed koala sighting near Nerigundah on November 13th 2013.
The O’Farrell Government has today confirmed it will roll out its amateur hunting in national parks program from October – despite abolishing the Game Council which was supposed to oversee the dangerous policy.
Media Release Luke Foley 2013-07-04 (45KB PDF)
Submission to NSW Govt 27th June 2013
Members of The Coastwatchers Association take a keen interest in how development in the Eurobodalla Shire is planned and carried out. They are particularly keen to see ecologically sustainable development implemented here and believe our Shire can be a showcase for how this can be achieved.
CW Submission on White Paper 2013-06-27 (83KB PDF)
The report and appendices are available for download below.
Koalas Project Appendix 1 – Theoretical Tests Schematic (18KB Microsoft Excel Worksheet)
Koalas Project Appendix 2 – Sources and Classification of Low Density Eucalypt Browse Species (20KB Microsoft Excel Worksheet)
Koalas Project Appendix 3 – Detailed Cross Referencing and Vegetation Type Analysis (132KB Microsoft Excel Worksheet)
Koalas Project Appendix 4 – Classified Polygons after Literature Search (20KB Microsoft Excel Worksheet)
Note: The next two PDF files contain map layers that can be switched on or off. See viewing instructions below.
Koalas Project Appendix 5a – Habitat Potential Derived Map -With Layers (4MB, PDF Map with Layers; download to use the layers)
Koalas Project Appendix 5b – SFNP Overlay on SCIVI Map -With Layers (4MB, PDF Map with Layers; download to use the layers)
If you left click the links to display the maps in your browser, the maps will display using the Adobe PDF browser plugin and map layers will not work.
To use the map layers function, you need to save the files on your computer, then open them in Adobe Reader.
Once you have downloaded the file, double click on it to open it in Adobe Reader; switch layers on and off using the layer control.
YOU have probably read leaflets, or articles and letters in the local paper criticising the Local Environment Plan (LEP) from groups such as Hands Off Our Homes (HOH) who are running campaigns to persuade the NSW government to reject the 2011 Draft LEP.
You may even have been asked to sign a petition.
Supporters of this campaign take the view that they have the right to build on or otherwise develop their land with almost no restriction.
They are focussed totally on the dollar value of their land without understanding the importance of their land in the wider context.
Drawing up an LEP is always going to be hard. It has to strike a balance between the interests of property development, environmental health and the public good of the community now and for the long-term future.
While Coastwatchers has concerns about the LEP, we do not agree with the views put forward by these groups, many of which are based on misinterpretation of the facts.
Planning constraints are there for good reason and need to be observed by all property owners.
Coastwatchers want to ensure environmental sustainability and biodiversity well-being in the Shire.
Subdivision of some rural areas is not in the interests of the environment or ratepayers. It is not a right of landowners, especially when land has been identified as important for protecting catchments and/or biodiversity; as unsuitable for development (eg vulnerable to flooding, extreme bushfires or coastal hazards); and/or as high quality agricultural land (necessary for future food security).
Eurobodalla needs more effective steps towards achieving enhanced environmental sustainability and securing better local food supplies for Eurobodalla now, let alone for possible increased local population and the needs of people further afield.
Facts supporting this view
Community wishes: The majority of residents and ratepayers want growth and development carefully planned and controlled so that it fits the character of the area and preserves the Shire’s environment(IRIS Research 2010, Eurobodalla Strategic Plan Community Engagement; Evolve Communities April 2011, Eurobodalla 2030 Deliberative Forums; Tourism Stakeholder Consultation Draft Report, August 2011).
NSW Government Requirements: Councils are required to ‘properly (manage) in a manner that is consistent with and promotes the principles of ecologically sustainable development’…’having regard for the long term and cumulative effects of its decisions.’ The NSW Local Government Act 1993).
The Principles explain that ‘Sustainability is the idea that future generations inherit a world at least as bountiful as the one we inhabit. ….environmental sustainability (includes) the protection of air, water, soils, energy, marine resources and other factors in the environment needed for biodiversity, including humanity, to live.’
Council mapping: Council was a leader in strategic planning and invested large sums of ratepayers’ dollars over several years to devise maps that clearly indicate the parts of the shire that are suitable for development and those that are environmentally sensitive and need to be protected. Application of these overlays to the LEP allows for agriculture or development in areas that are appropriately zoned for such uses.
Contrary to the wishes of the Hand off our Homes supporters, the mapped overlays should remain accessible to the public as part of the LEP so that every property owner knows where the sensitive areas are and manage their land accordingly.
Errors in mapping can be rectified by landowners giving permission for staff to access land to ground truth the mapping.
Biodiversity certification of land: this process has been established by the NSW government under Part 7A of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. It is designed to deliver better environmental outcomes from urban development, and provide greater certainty and reduce the time and cost of environmental assessment to private landholders and developers as well as local government. Areas of high conservation value are identified and protected, and any clearing or loss of other habitat is offset. Where certification is conferred for the specified area, it ‘switches off’ the requirement for individual Development Applications to address biodiversity issues.
Consequences of a successful “Hands off our Homes campaign”: Council has already taken the divergent views of Eurobodalla residents into account with consideration of the submissions to the 2009 Draft LEP. This community consultation process, even though less than ideal, may be overturned by self-interested elements at the eleventh hour and undermine the good of the whole Shire now and in the future.
What you can do?
It so happens that a large portion of our shire is made up of environmentally sensitive areas as defined by State government rules.
It also has a significant area of arable land important for producing our food.
If you disagree with the reasoning of the “Hands off our Homes” campaign it is important that you tell this to each of the Eurobodalla Shire Councillors, the General Manager and the Minister for Planning.
This photo was taken in early November at the Durras Lake entrance. At some stage every day
the Pied Oystercatcher parents and chicks return and stay in the fenced off area, “returning to their place of birth.” It has now been a little over 13 years that I have been fencing off Pied Oystercatcher nesting sites in this area. I’m now wondering if these shorebirds associate the fenced off bit as some sort of sanctuary area, even when
they have chicks. The previous weekend Durras was so busy, there were people everywhere at the Durras Lake entrance area, the Pieds and chicks were being shuffled in all directions, as a result of this people pressure. Then these Pied Oystercatchers returned to the fenced off area, and stayed there for the remainder of the day, away from being disturbed. There are now a lot more Pied Oystercatchers in the Durras Lake area, a week ago I saw a flock of five fly over. It would have been so useful to have banded all the chicks that have hatched in this area over the years, so as to keep a better track of them.
You can view or download the report below in pdf format: 858kB (16 pages)
In 2001 Australian Silicon Ltd. lodged a development application with the NSW Government for a charcoal plant near Mogo, Mossy Point and Broulee on Eurobodalla’s Nature Coast.
The plant would consume 200,000 tonnes of South East NSW forest timber annually for 20 years (170,000 tonnes to be burned, 30,000 tonnes to be used a fluxwood in the proposed Lithow silicon smelter).
The development was classified as a project of State significance, so the Eurobodalla Shire Council did not have authority to approve or reject the proposal.
The company’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was released in November 2001. It was regarded as a poor quality and piecemeal document, and the logging itself, more than double previous volumes, was not required to have an EIS.
Planning NSW received 1,530 submissions from 1,220 individuals and groups (including five local councils) in response to this EIS. Only nineteen of these submissions were in support of the project.
On May 1st 2002 the Minister for Planning, Dr. Andrew Refshauge, approved the development.
The Coastwatchers Association Inc. was concerned about the environmental impact of the plant on the air, water, and forests of our pristine area of the south coast, and the effects on employment in local industries, particularly the tourist industry. Tourism success in this area is largely due to Eurobodalla’s Nature Coast image and the many, and economically important, self-drive family visits.
The Charcoalition was set up as a subcommittee of The Coastwatchers Association Inc., to represent the thousands of people who did not want the charcoal plant. This determined and focused group worked tirelessly for over a year planning and executing a series of actions and events, and used the internet to rally the community against the proposal.
The community gradually became more aware of this proposed development following a meeting of about 100 concerned citizens at the Tomakin Hall on September 7th 2001. Following meetings at Mogo, Moruya and Batemans Bay attracted 400-500 people each.
The Eurobodalla Shire Council, Eurobodalla Tourism Development Board, Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce, Aboriginal Land Councils, and many community organisations and businesses publicly stated their opposition to the plant.
On September 24th 2002 Australian Silicon Ltd announced that they would not be proceeding with the charcoal plant at Mogo, with strong community opposition to the project cited as one of the reasons for this decision.
The Charcoalition appeal in the Land and Environment Court, against the NSW Minister for Planning’s decision granting an approval to build a charcoal factory near Broulee, was upheld
on October 2nd 2002.
The campaign orchestrated by the Charcoalition for a charcoal-free South Coast was a magnificent team effort by a dedicated few people, taking on the full might of the NSW Government and the private sector, and strongly supported by the Eurobodalla community, the Greens (The Eurobodalla Greens offered Non-Violent Direct Action workshops), Wilderness Society, South East Forest Alliance, Conservation Council of the SE Region and Canberra, Nature Conservation Council of NSW and hundreds of other groups and individuals.
The Bengello sandplain between Broulee and the Moruya River is one of the most
valuable natural assets in the Eurobodalla Shire.
Its geology is fascinating. The sandplain is one of the largest and most extensively
studied beach-ridge plains on the eastern seaboard of Australia. The data it will
continue to yield is critical for the prediction of the impacts of global climate change
and sea level rise on sandy coasts.
You can view or download the document below in pdf format (59 pages, 1.9MB)
or, for a higher resolution version, suitable for printing, please download the pdf below.
Here is a small collection of photos taken during the Charcoalition campaign (in chronological order). Click on the images to see in full size.
Upon the withdrawal of the Charcoal plant proposal by Australian Silicon, the Land and Environment Court upheld the Coastwatchers Charcoalition’s appeal and overturned the development consent.
The Charcoalition incurred substantial legal and incidental costs in this action. It will be some months yet before all accounts have been authorised and paid, and the legal fund can be finalised and wound up.
Chris Kowal, spokesperson for the Charcoalition, said “The Charcoalition has received advice regarding the status of the fund, our obligations to donors, and the distribution of any residual funds.”
Chris continued “The community will be informed about the wind-up process in due course. Meanwhile, the only payments that are being made from the fund are for legal and incidental costs associated with the legal challenge and wind-up process.”
The fund will be included in an audit of all Coastwatchers accounts at the end of the current financial year.
THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY
AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION
6 NOVEMBER 2002
BRACKS’ FOREST ANNOUNCEMENT: ENVIRONMENT GROUPS RESPOND
The Forests and National Parks policy released by Victorian Premier Bracks today is a major improvement in the Bracks Government’s environmental credentials, according to national and state conservation groups.
Wilderness Society Victorian Campaigns Manager Gavan McFadzean said, “The announcement is an important step for Labor which protects the Otways, ends woodchipping in the Wombat Forest and PROHIBITS THE BURNING OF NATIVE FOREST FOR ELECTRICITY AND CHARCOAL.
“Protecting Victoria’s old-growth forests remains an urgent priority and needs to be addressed by all Parties. Old-growth forest provides key critical habitat for Victoria’s endangered flora and fauna, protects pristine water catchment and provides a future for nature-based tourism in the State.
“A critical aspect of the Bracks’ announcement is ruling out burning of native forests for the production of electricity and charcoal production. The announcement ensures that these destructive industries will not set foot in our native forests.
“All parties should also commit to protecting Melbourne’s water catchments. Despite our worst ever drought, logging continues in water supply catchments, depriving Melbourne of much needed water,” said Mr McFadzean.
“The protection of the Otway Forests is an outstanding announcement by the Premier, and a significant win for the Geelong and regional community,” said Environment Victoria Executive Director, Marcus Godinho.
“With the protection of the Otways, the region’s tourism industry is set for growth, and water supply catchments afforded protection. Western Victoria’s timber industry also has a secure future, based on development and further value adding of the region’s plantation resource,” said Mr Godinho.
“This is a significant announcement for the protection of the Otways, prohibiting the burning of native forests for electricity and charcoal, and boosting national park management. It’s very important that all parties address the issues of protecting all old growth forests, water and rivers, and greenhouse,” said Australian Conservation Foundation Executive Director, Don Henry.
The three orders sought were made.
The first two orders were agreed to by Planning NSW and Australian Silicon and accordingly the court found in favour of the appellants. In respect to the third order regarding costs, the court requested that the appellants present documentation to the court in 14 days.
Spokesperson for Charcoalition Chris Kowal said “It’s official now, the community has a Charcoal-Free victory for the Nature Coast and that means that businesses and communities up and down the Coast are the big winners. It means the voice of the community does count and Governments that ignore the community do so at their peril.”
Responding to comments made in Parliament by the Premier, Mr Kowal said “This outcome has saved the NSW taxpayer over $70 million in concessions and subsidies to set this development up. Also, the nature based tourism economy in south east NSW has been saved, this secures the Nature Coasts future and means there will be no net job losses for the Eurobodalla as a result of the courts decision. Tourism is worth over $700 million annually and employs over 6000 people across the region”.
For more information contact
Chris Kowal Ph/fax 02 4474 3335