6th September 2006

Critical Infrastructure and Special Projects
Department of Planning
GPO Box 39

TERMINAL (06 0009)



On 15th May 2006, the Clarence Environment Centre (CEC) wrote to the Premier, Mr Morris Iemma, expressing serious concerns at the makeup of the Government's Greenhouse Advisory Panel which did not contain a single environmental scientist, or advocate.

We reminded Mr Iemma that there is an expectation that within 50 years, much of the unique attributes of Australia's world heritage parks will be lost, including the Great Barrier Reef, North Queensland's rainforests, the Snowy Mountains, and many of our RAMSAR wetlands.

He has since responded advising the appointment of a CSIRO specialist on 'greenhouse' to the panel, a move which we applaud. However, when learning that State Government is shortly to consider the approval of an open-cut coal mine at Anvil Hill, and a third coal export terminal in Newcastle, we are extremely concerned.

If the above proposals receive approval, we imagine environmentalists world-wide will ask if the Greenhouse Advisory Panel was consulted as part of the decision making process, and which of its members voted to approve the proposals, and why.

Scientists and governments across the globe are now in agreement that CO2 emissions are creating irreversible climate change through global warming. Any proposal to dramatically increase the mining and export of coal, will put life as we know it at risk.

It has been estimated that coal from the proposed Anvil Hill mine will, when in full production, contribute 25 million tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere annually, and as a result of this unacceptable pollution, the CEC fully supports the Hunter Community Environment Centre in calling for these proposals to be rejected unconditionally.

If this single climate change factor is not enough, the following additional environmental impacts of the mine proposal must also be considered:

  • It will destroy over 1200 hectares of the largest stand of vegetation remaining on the Hunter Valley floor. With habitat loss being identified as the primary factor in the decline of hundreds of threatened species across Australia, this level of proposed destruction is unacceptable.

  • Will destroy vital wildlife corridors and habitat for over 30 threatened species known to occur at the site, including 3 endangered ecological communities. The experience of Grafton's Shannon Creek Dam development has shown that, once independent assessment of the ecological impacts occurs, the number of threatened species to be impacted could be tripled.

  • Will massively impact the natural flows of waterways in the Hunter River catchment, recognised as a key threatening process under the TSC Act, and

  • will destroy important Aboriginal heritage sites and artifacts. Again, if independent archaeological assessments are undertaken, the extent of that destruction will likely increase dramatically.

Separately, the proposed coal export terminal at Newcastle will:

  • Encourage the opening of other coal mining operations, including BHP Billiton's proposed Caroona development.

  • Will require the dredging of millions of tonnes of toxic sediment from Newcastle Harbour.

  • Will impact RAMSAR wetlands and migratory birds protected under international treaty.

  • Will impact on other threatened species including the nationally endangered Green and Golden Bell Frog.

In the interests of the global environment, the Clarence Environment Centre urges the Department of Planning to reject both proposals.

Yours sincerely

John Edwards Hon Secretary.