News is trickling through unofficial channels about the possibility of a Berejiklian government plan to buy out the remaining licence from the Shenhua Watermark coal mine project at Breeza in the state’s west.
Apart from the damage to the environment, in particular, water, if you’re a farmer, it’s hard to make business decisions and investments if you don’t know if your farm will be viable once the coal mine goes ahead.
A huge relief for the Breeza community
Breeza Farmer John Hamparsum says that if the rumours are true, it will be a huge relief. Hamparsum and all of the farmers in the area, which is the food bowl of the state, the country and the world, have been living under a cloud for many years without knowing if their future was in farming or in packing up and leaving.
‘We have had many false horizons before but my gut feeling is this is true,’ said Hamparsum this morning. ‘After 13 years of fighting it I am hoping with all my heart it is true.’
John says it will be a wonderful day for the entire community if the project can be stopped. ‘The people of the Breeza community will also be relieved that a huge coal mine isn’t going to be built on their doorstep, with all the issues that go with a massive project like this coal mine – the dust and noise, and the impacts wildlife and on water systems both surface and underground water.
A weight lifted from the local mob’s shoulders
‘The local indigenous people will have a huge weight lifted from their shoulders knowing that they have been able to protect their heritage from destruction and will be able to share their history with future generations.’
John says there will an uproarious celebration when the news is made official. ‘We will have the biggest party the region has ever seen – a huge concert with Luke Vasella and Luke O’Shea, massive screens showing Cloudcatcher Media videos above the stage and a party like there is no tomorrow.
‘This is so exciting I can’t believe it is possible!
‘It is a win-win for everyone – it protects the Plains, it protects Indigenous sites, there is no new coal mine to impact our climate, Shenhua China can walk away with dignity and coal market isn’t flooded with cheap coal so current coal miners have a bit more job security.
‘It’s also a huge win for our koala populations.’
John says the future of farming in the area will also come out from under a very dark shadow. ‘I see the Plains returning to farming, the sacred site areas given to the local Gomeroi community and a renewable energy area to be a monument to past mistakes and hope for our future generations.’