The fight to save the Gardens of Stone came to the streets of Springwood today when mountains residents rallied in the town square calling on the government to protect the area from coal mining once and for all.
The rally, organized by the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, Lithgow Environment Group and Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC) was the final event in a week-long tour by senior NCC staff of iconic natural areas across the state that are being threatened by damaging coal mining and gas developments.
Garden of Stone is a complex of coloured escarpments, narrow canyons, upland swamps, rock arches and pagodas that provide habitat for many endangered plants and wildlife, including six animals listed as endangered under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act: the Regent Honeyeater, Spotted Tail Quoll, Bathurst Copper Butterfly, Brushtailed Rock-wallaby and Powerful Owl.
NCC Chief Executive Officer Pepe Clarke said even though the Planning Assessment Commission made damning findings against the proposal in December, the area was still vulnerable.
“Coalpac’s revised open-cut coal mine proposal at Cullen Bullen north of Lithgow is still a very real threat to this iconic area and must be opposed at every opportunity,” Mr Clarke said.
“The O’Farrell government now has an historic opportunity to protect this unique part of the state’s environmental heritage for future generations and to improve its poor environmental credentials by declaring it a State Conservation Area. People should not have to fight this fight – this should be protected up front.”
Eva Rizana, who spent the first 25 years of her life in Cullen Bullen said “If the Coalpac project goes ahead the residents of Cullen Bullen will be living in the middle of an open-cut coal mine for 20 years causing irreversible damage to the community.”
“I stand here speaking for the majority of residents of Cullen Bullen whose stories have been lost, we have a lot to lose from this proposal.”
Tara Cameron, vice president of Blue Mountains Conservation Society, said approval of this proposal would open the door to the “visual cancer of strip mining along the steep forested edges of the Greater Blue Mountains”.
“These long thin strips of steep and elevated lands are very difficult to rehabilitate and will become, for all time, areas of visual blight, destroying the region’s greatest tourist asset, its stunning scenery. It must be stopped,” Ms Cameron said.
“To allow open-cut mine anywhere is bad, but to ruin the Gardens of Stone would be intolerable,” Ms Cameron said.
“The government has a clear responsibility to reject the Coalpac proposal and protect the area for ever by declaring it a State Conservation Area.”
Date: April 21, 2013
James Tremain, media officer, NSW Nature Conservation Council, 0419 272 254
Tara Cameron, Blue Mountains Conservation Society, 0419 824 974