Showing posts with label water. Show all posts
Showing posts with label water. Show all posts

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Over $4 billion of taxpayers money being spent on Snowy 2.0 and they get what?


The Turnbull Coalition Government in Canberra and the Hodgman Liberal Government in Tasmania have laboured to produce two new energy schemes - Snowy 2.0 and the "Battery of the Nation".

These schemes are being touted as ‘clean energy’ providing stability across the nation’s power networks, supply into the future and cheaper consumer costs.

One small problem……

Both are pumped hydro systems which will actually use more power than they generate as their electricity consumption will be high.

That is, the total megawatts of electricity from other sources required to pump the water into the hydroelectric plant will exceed the megawatts of electricity produced by the plant.

Not all the potential electricity produced by the plant is realised, because pumping water uphill and, the conversions of the potential energy to kinetic energy to electricity is less than 100% efficient across each stage of the entire process. It seems efficiency loss would run somewhere between 20% to 40%.

Then there are the environmental effects.


Hydropower projects can reduce the flows in rivers downstream if the upstream flows are trapped behind a reservoir and/or diverted into canals that take the water off stream to a generation unit. Lowering the flows in a river can alter water temperatures and degrade habitat for plants and animals. Less water in the river can also reduce oxygen levels which damage water quality.

Water is typically stored behind a dam and released through the turbines when power is needed. This creates artificial flow patterns in the downstream river that may be very different from the flow patterns a river would naturally experience. For example, rivers fed mostly by snowmelt may experience much higher flows in the winter and spring than the summer and fall. Hydropower operations may differ from these natural flow patterns, which has implications for downstream riparian and aquatic species.  If water levels downstream of a hydropower project fluctuate wildly because of generation operations, fish could be stranded in suddenly shallow waters. If operations cause a more static flow schedule throughout the year than what the river would normally experience, the movement of sediment along a river section could be disrupted, reducing habitat for aquatic species. Fewer seasonal flow events could also cause a riparian corridor to thicken into a less dynamic channel as saplings that would usually be seasonally thinned by high flows are able to mature.

Dams can also block the migration of fish that swim upstream to reach spawning grounds. 

In addition, large dams created in heavily forested areas have been known to produce high levels of methane into the water and air in the period following construction.

The Snowy Mountains Scheme already contains one power station which includes capacity for pumped hydro - Tumut 3 Power Station at Talbingo Dam. It has a maximum 600 MW capacity and reportedly rarely uses its pumped hydro due to at least 30% efficiency loss. For every 1MWh of pumping the amount of generation that results is only 0.7 MWh of electricity. Operating hours when storage full is 40 hours.

The proposed Snowy 2.0 hydro scheme will have a maximum 2,000 MW capacity and will run an energy deficit as there will be an est. 24% difference between the amount of energy required to pump the water in and turn it into electricity and the amount of electricity the scheme actually produces. Operating hours when storage full is expected to be up to 7.3 days.

Its pumping storage is expected to have a life time of 40-60 years and for that the Australian taxpayer is expected to watch at least $4.5$ billion leave general revenue and go towards its construction.

It will the eighth power plant constructed within the Snowy Mountain Scheme.

Snowy 2.0 will be inserted 1km underground somewhere between Talbingo and Tantangra reservoirs. 

Rivers which feed the Snowy Mountain Scheme are the Tumbarumba, Tooma, Tumut, Eucumbene, Snowy, Jindabyne and Goodradigbee - their flows are expected to decrease over time due to climate change and, it is predicted that median water runoff into the scheme will be 13% lower within the next 50 years.

The bottom line is that the entire Snowy Mountains scheme (including 2.0) will very likely be water hungry in the lifetime of today's primary school kids and operating on ageing infrastructure. It is also likely that by that time the amount of electricity it can produce will have fallen.

It is a continuing marvel that the Howard, Abbott and Turnbull governments all only seriously considered those energy schemes which are at the higher end of the negative impact scale. 

The 2006 Howard Government's Switkowski report into the feasibility of nuclear power generation is a case in point. Now in approaching a large-scale renewable energy project this current federal government again choses one with a long list of potential negatives.

For the life of me I cannot see why solar, wind and wave power frightens Liberal and Nationals MPs and senators so much, when overseas experience shows just how successfully these can be harnessed by national governments that believe in climate change and the need for mitigation measures.

Reference Material


Snowy 2.0 feasibility study information and reports:

A short summary booklet on the feasibility study is available, click here.

To view the publicly available chapters of the feasibility study, go to the 2.0 Feasibility Study page here.

The Marsden Jacob Associates report (an independent expert economic analysis of the changing energy market) commissioned as part of the Snowy 2.0 feasibility study is available, click here.


Map found at Wikipedia

Sunday, 10 June 2018

The political endorsements of extinction by Turnbull, Berejiklian and Palaszczuk governments continue




Wild fish stocks in Australian waters shrank by about a third in the decade to 2015, declining in all regions except strictly protected marine zones, according to data collected by scientists and public divers.

The research, based on underwater reef monitoring at 533 sites around the nation and published in the Aquatic Conservation journal, claims to be the first large-scale independent survey of fisheries. It found declining numbers tracked the drop in total reported catch for 213 Australian fisheries for the 1992-2014 period.

The biomass of larger fish fell 36 per cent on fished reefs during 2005-15 and dropped 18 per cent in marine park zones allowing limited fishing, the researchers said. There was a small increase in targeted fish species in zones that barred fishing altogether.
"Most of the numbers are pretty shocking," said David Booth, a marine ecologist at the University of Technology Sydney. “This paper really nails down the fact that fishing or the removal of large fish is one of the causes” of their decline.

Over-fished stocks include the eastern jackass morwong, eastern gemfish, greenlip abalone, school shark, warehou and the grey nurse shark. The morwong catch, once as common as flathead in the trawl fishery, dived about 95 per cent from the 1960s to 109 tonnes in the 2015-16 year to become basically a bycatch species……

…Peter Whish-Wilson, the Greens ocean spokesman, said the new research was largely based on actual underwater identification – including the Reef Life Survey using citizen scientists. It suggests fishing stocks "are not as rosy as the industry or government would like us all to think".

"This study also shows that marine parks can be successful fisheries management tools but we simply don’t have enough of them or enough protection within them to deliver widespread benefits," he said.

"The new Commonwealth Marine Reserves are woefully inadequate and won’t do anything to stop the continuing decline in the health of our oceans."


Humane Society International Australia (HSI), represented by EDO NSW, is seeking independent review of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) decision to approve a lethal shark control program in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

HSI has lodged an appeal in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) which will require a full reconsideration of the approval of the shark control program. The 10 year lethal control program targets 26 shark species in the Marine Park, including threatened and protected species. The appeal is based on the public interest in protecting the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.....

As apex predators, sharks play a vital role in maintaining the health of the Great Barrier Reef. HSI is concerned about the ongoing impacts caused by the use of lethal drumlines which are known to impact not only on shark species but also dolphins, turtles and rays. HSI is calling for non-lethal alternatives for bather protection.


Forest covering an area more than 50 times the size of the combined central business districts of Sydney and Melbourne is set to be bulldozed near the Great Barrier Reef, official data shows, triggering claims the Turnbull government is thwarting its $500 million reef survival package.

Figures provided to Fairfax Media by Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy show that 36,600 hectares of land in Great Barrier Reef water catchments has been approved for tree clearing and is awaiting destruction.

The office of Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg did not say if his government was comfortable with the extent of land clearing approved in Queensland, or if it would use its powers to cancel permits.

The approvals were granted by the Queensland government over the past five years. About 9000 hectares under those approvals has already been cleared.

Despite the dire consequences of land clearing for the Great Barrier Reef – and billions of dollars of public money spent over the years to tackle the problem – neither Labor nor the government would commit to intervening to stop the mass deforestation.


Freedom of information laws are an important mechanism for making government decisions transparent and accountable. But the existence of such laws doesn’t mean access to information is easy.

It took a three-year legal process for the Humane Society International (HSI), represented by EDO NSW, to access documents about how the Australian Government came to accredit a NSW biodiversity offsets policy for major projects

The NSW policy in question allowed significant biodiversity trade-offs (that is, permitting developers to clear habitat in return for compensatory actions elsewhere) seemingly inconsistent with national biodiversity offset standards. HSI wanted to know how the national government could accredit a policy that didn’t meet its own standards.

Despite Australia being a signatory to important international environmental agreements and accepting international obligations to protect biodiversity, in recent years it has been proposed that the national government should delegate its environmental assessment and approval powers to the states, creating a ‘one stop shop’ for developers.

The original FOI request in this case was submitted in early 2015, during a time when Federal and State and Territory Governments were actively in consultation on handing over federal approval powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). This was to be done in the name of efficiency, with the assurance that national standards would be upheld by the states.
Over 60 documents finally accessed by HSI show this was a false promise. The documents reveal that federal bureaucrats in the environment department identified key areas of the NSW policy that differed from federal standards.

Despite this, the policy was accredited.

Accreditation meant that the NSW policy could be used when approving developments with impacts on nationally threatened species found in NSW, instead of applying the more rigorous national offsets policy.

In the time it took to argue for access to the documents, NSW developed a new biodiversity offsets policy as part of broader legislative reforms for biodiversity and land clearing. Unfortunately, the new NSW biodiversity offsets policy continues to entrench many of the weaker standards. For example, mine site rehabilitation decades in the future can count as an offset now; offset requirements may be discounted if other socio-economic factors are considered; and supplementary measures - such as research or paying cash - are an alternative to finding a direct offset (that is, protecting the actual plant or animal that has been impacted by a development).

While there have been some tweaks to the new policy for nationally listed threatened species, there is still a clear divergence in standards. The new policy, and the new NSW biodiversity laws, are now awaiting accreditation by the Australian Government.

How our unique and irreplaceable biodiversity is managed (and traded off) is clearly a matter of public interest. And on the eve of a hearing at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the federal environment department agreed and released over 60 documents. While it was a heartening win for transparency and the value of FOI laws, it was a depressing read when these documents revealed the political endorsement of extinction.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Failed coal seam gas mining company Linc Energy's 9 week trial underway in Queensland, Australia


As the story unfolded.........

ABC News, 16 April 2016:

Oil and gas company Linc Energy has been placed into administration in a bid to avoid penalties for polluting the environment, a Queensland green group says.

It was announced late Friday that administrators PPB Advisory had been called in to work with Linc's management on options including a possible restructure.

In a statement to the ASX, the company said after receiving legal and financial advice and considering commercial prospects the board decided it was in the best interests of the company to make the move.

It comes one month after the company was committed to stand trial on five charges relating to breaches in Queensland's environmental laws at its underground coal gasification site.

The state's environment department accused the company of wilfully causing serious harm at its trial site near Chinchilla on the Darling Downs.

Drew Hutton from the Lock the Gate Alliance said the company could face up to $56 million in fines if found guilty, but the penalty might never be paid.

"It is going to be difficult to get any money out of this company now that it is in administration," he said.


Mr Hutton said going into administration was a common legal manoeuvre to dodge fines and costly clean-ups......

Queensland Government, Dept. of Environment and Heritage Protection, 29 January 2018:

Environmental Protection Order directed to Linc

Prior to Linc entering liquidation, DES issued Linc with an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) which required it to retain critical infrastructure on-site, conduct a site audit and undertake basic environmental monitoring to characterise the current status of the site.

Linc’s liquidators launched a legal challenge associated with this EPO in the Supreme Court seeking orders that they were justified in not causing Linc to comply with the EPO (or any future EPO). DES opposed this application.

In April 2017, the Supreme Court directed that Linc’s liquidators are not justified in causing Linc not to comply with the EPO. The Court accepted DES’ argument that the relevant provisions of the EP Act prevail over the Commonwealth Corporations Act and that Linc’s liquidators are executive officers of the company. Subject to any appeal decision, this confirms DES’s ability to enforce compliance with environmental obligations owed by resource companies who have gone into administration or liquidation.

Linc’s liquidators have since appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal. This appeal was heard in September 2017 and the decision was reserved.

Environmental Protection Order directed to a related person of Linc

DES used the ‘chain of responsibility’ amendments to the EP Act to issue an EPO to a ‘related person’ of Linc. The EPO requires the recipient to take steps to decommission most of the site’s dams and provide a bank guarantee of $5.5 million to secure compliance with the order.

The recipient of the EPO has appealed to the Planning and Environment Court and that litigation is ongoing.

The recipient of the EPO also applied for an order that the appeal be allowed and the EPO be set aside on the basis that DES denied him procedural fairness. The Planning and Environment Court dismissed that application. The recipient of the EPO appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal. That appeal was heard in March 2017 and judgment in favour of DES was delivered in August 2017. Subject to any further appeal, this decision confirms that the recipient was not denied procedural fairness and that DES’ interpretation of the EP Act was correct.

The earlier appeal in relation to the EPO (regarding the substance of the document) is yet to be heard by the Planning and Environment Court.

Investigation and prosecution of Linc and former executives

Linc Energy Limited will stand trial in the Brisbane District Court, commencing 29 January 2018, on five counts of wilfully causing serious environmental harm, in contravention of the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

All counts relate to operations at the Linc Energy underground coal gasification site near Chinchilla, from approximately 2007 to 2013, and allege that contaminants were allowed to escape as a result of the operation.

In addition, the Queensland Government has charged five former Linc Energy executives over the operation of the UCG site in Chinchilla. A committal hearing in the Brisbane Magistrates Court is expected to take place in mid-2018.

As these matters remain before the courts, DES is unable to comment further on the legal proceedings.

Media releases


ABC News, 30 January 2018:

A landmark case described by a District Court judge as "unusual" will hear how gas company Linc Energy allegedly contaminated strategic cropping land causing serious environmental damage to parts of Queensland's Western Downs.

Linc Energy is charged with five counts of wilfully and unlawfully causing environmental harm between 2007 and 2013 at Chinchilla.

The charges relate to alleged contamination at Linc Energy's Hopeland underground coal gasification (UCG) plant.

The trial will enter its second day today in the District Court in Brisbane, with crown prosecutor Ralph Devlin QC expected to begin his opening address to the empanelled jury later this morning.

Former Linc Energy scientists, geologists, and engineers as well as several investigators from the Queensland Environment Department are among those expected to give evidence.

Echo NetDaily, 30 January 2018:

BRISBANE, AAP – A failed energy company accused of knowingly and illegally polluting a significant part of Queensland’s Darling Downs has faced trial in a landmark criminal case in Brisbane.

Linc Energy is charged with five counts of wilfully and unlawfully causing environmental harm between 2007 and 2013 after allegedly allowing toxic gas to leak from its operations.

The Brisbane District Court trial has heard Linc’s four underground coal gasification (UCG) sites and water were polluted to the point it was unfit for stock to consume but the company kept operating.

Crown prosecutor Ralph Devlin QC told the jury the company allowed hazardous contaminants to spread even after scientists and workers warned about gases bubbling from the ground.

Linc operated four UCG sites in Chinchilla where it burnt coal underground at very high temperatures to create gas.

In his opening address on Tuesday, Mr Devlin said scientists warned senior managers about the risk environmental harm was being caused throughout the operation…..

 ‘Bond prioritised Linc’s commercial interests over the requirements of operating its mining activity in an environmentally safe manner,’ Mr Devlin said.

‘Linc did nothing to stop, mitigate or rehabilitate the state of affairs that Linc itself had caused.’

As part of the UCG process, Linc injected air into the ground, which created and enlarged fractures.

It tried to concrete surface cracks and use wells to control pressure but they didn’t sufficiently reduce risks or damage, the court heard.

‘Linc kept going, even knowing the measures weren’t working,’ Mr Devlin said.

Scientists who visited the site are due to give evidence during the nine-week trial, but no senior managers from the company, which is in liquidation, will take the stand.

The trial continues.

ABC News, 8 February 2018:

Workers at an underground coal gasification plant on Queensland's Western Darling Downs were told to drink milk and eat yoghurt to protect their stomachs from acid, a court has heard.

The gas company has pleaded not guilty to five counts of causing serious environmental harmfrom its underground coal gasification operations between 2007 and 2013 in Chinchilla.

The corporation is not defending itself as it is in liquidation so there is no-one in the dock or at the bar table representing the defence.

A witness statement by former gas operator Timothy Ford was read to the court, which he prepared in 2015 before his death.

The court was not told how Mr Ford died.

He said the gas burnt his eyes and nose and he would need to leave the plant after work to get fresh air because it made him feel sick.

"We were told to drink milk in the mornings and at the start of shift… we were also told to eat yoghurt," he said.

"The purpose of this was to line our guts so the acid wouldn't burn our guts.

"We were not allowed to drink the tank water and were given bottled water."

Mr Ford said he always felt lethargic, suffered infections and had shortness of breath.

"During my time at the Linc site, would be the sickest I have been," he said.

"It is my belief that workplace was causing my sickness.

"I strongly feel that the Linc site was not being run properly due to failures of the wells and gas releases.".....

Sunshine Coast Daily, 9 February 2018:

A CONCRETE pumper says he saw 'black tar' seeping up at a Linc Energy site and raised concerns with the company.

Robert Arnold has told a court he noticed some odd occurrences when he went to the Chinchilla site in late 2007……

On Thursday, Mr Arnold told jurors he noticed several phenomena at the site.
"We saw bubbles coming up ... and a black tar substance. We commented back to Linc about it."

"A few of us went over and had a look ... basically it just looked like a heavy black oil ... it was in the puddles as well, in the same area," Mr Arnold added.

"We couldn't place our equipment close to the well because of these overhead pipes ... it was dripping out of the joints."

Prosecutor Ralph Devlin earlier claimed a "bubbling" event happened on the ground after rainfall at the coal gasification site.

Mr Arnold told jurors that after discussing the oozing substance, concrete trucks turned up and he pumped the concrete into a well.

Mr Arnold said he felt the concrete used that time was "very light" but the on-site supervisor made that decision.

Prosecutors previously told the court concerns were raised at various times with Linc leadership about the quality of cement and geological data used at the site.

The Crown has also claimed Linc used its underground wells in a way that made them fail, and allowed contaminants to escape far way, to places Linc could not remove them.

BACKGROUND
Wikipedia, 5 February 2018:

Linc started its Chinchilla Demonstration Facility in July 1999. First gas was produced in that very same year. Initially Linc Energy used the underground coal gasification technology worked out by Ergo Exergy Technologies, Inc, of Canada. 

However, in 2006 the cooperation with Ergo Exergy was terminated and the cooperation agreement for technology usage, consultation and engineering services was signed with the Skochinsky Institute of Mining and the Scientific-Technical Mining Association of Russia.[2]

In 2005, Linc signed a memorandum with Syntroleum granting a licence to use the Syntroleum's proprietary gas-to-liquid technology and started to build a GTL pilot plant in November 2007 at the Chinchilla facility. The plant was commissioned in August 2008. The first synthetic crude was produced in October 2008.[3]

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Gas industry finally admits that its lobbying spin contains untruths?


Tucked into the wall-to-wall spin of this media release is a tacit admission that safe aquifer recharge with treated water is little more than a convenient deception offered up to governments and citizens in the gas industry's drive to create more gasfields and extract more water from the natural environment in the mining process.
Research into the effects of the Coal Seam Gas industry on groundwater is continuously improving our understanding about underground water movements and implications for coal seam development.
Scientists from Queensland's independent Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA) and the University of Queensland Centre for Coal Seam Gas have been wading through an enormous amount of data being contributed by landholders, government, industry and other research projects to build up a better understanding of groundwater movements.
Early studies suggest that the recharge of underground aquifers may not be as effective as once thought and recharge flow paths may not be what we first thought.
Research indicates that much of the rain recharging the Hutton and Precipice Sandstone aquifers in the North-East Surat Basin is discharging into the local low topography of the Dawson River.
That means the water is flowing in a north easterly direction, rather than to the south west into the regional Great Artesian Basin as was thought prior to 2009.
These findings were applied by OGIA in the development of regional groundwater flow models in 2012 and 2016 but many landholders remain unaware of the new findings.
It's also thought there could be small faults that create a localised connection between the Precipice and Hutton Aquifers in the vicinity of what is known as the Moonie-Goondiwindi fault system.
Researchers stress that this is still a work in progress and it is currently being reviewed by UQ and CSIRO researchers working independently on multiple data sets to either confirm or refute the hypothesis.
Lead researcher at the UQ Centre for Coal Seam Gas, Prof Jim Underschultz says, "Our understanding of the Great Artesian Basin is increasing as researchers analyse the growing amount of data collected from the basin.
"The use of groundwater monitoring data, water production figures, detailed geographic distributions of water levels and hydrocarbon migration 'fingerprints' are giving us a level of detail never seen before".
The UQ researchers are collaborating closely with CSIRO, OGIA and the CSG Compliance Unit to ensure that research findings are made publicly available as quickly as possible.
Jim's research publications can be found at: http://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/8868
[my yellow highlighting]

Friday, 9 February 2018

Falling biodiversity, degradation of productive rural land, intensification of coastal & city development, and the threat of climate change require Australia to produce blueprint for a new generation of environment laws


“The next generation of environmental laws will need to recognise explicitly the role of humanity as a trustee of the environment and its common resources, requiring both care and engagement on behalf of future generations.”  [APEEL, Blueprint for the Next Generation of Environmental Law, August 2017]

The Guardian, 6 February 2018:
Environmental lawyers and academics have called for a comprehensive rethink on how Australia's natural landscapes are protected, warning that short-term politics is infecting decision-making and suggesting that the public be given a greater say on development plans.
The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law has launched a blueprint for a new generation of environment laws and the creation of independent agencies with the power and authority to ensure they are enforced. The panel of 14 senior legal figures says this is motivated by the need to systematically address ecological challenges including falling biodiversity, the degradation of productive rural land, the intensification of coastal and city development and the threat of climate change.
Murray Wilcox QC, a former federal court judge, said the blueprint was a serious attempt to improve a system that was shutting the public out of the decision-making process and failing to properly assess the impact of large-scale development proposals.
"We found the standard of management of the environment is poor because everything is made into a political issue," Wilcox said. "Nothing happens until it becomes desperate.
"We need a non-political body of significant prestige to report on what is happening and have the discretion to act."
The legal review, developed over several years and quietly released in 2017, resulted in 57 recommendations. It was suggested by the Places You Love alliance, a collection of about 40 environmental groups that was created to counter a failed bid to set up a "one-stop shop" for environmental approvals by leaving it to the states. The panel undertook the work on the understanding it would be independent and not a piece of activism.
Review report can be found here.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Forecasting a dangerous present and devastating future for Australia



“Background warming associated with anthropogenic climate change has seen Australian annual mean temperature increase by approximately 1.1 °C since 1910. Most of this warming has occurred since 1950.” [Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Annual Climate Statement 2017]

Bloomberg, 10 January 2018:

The road-melting heatwave that made Sydney the hottest place on Earth at the weekend may just be a taste of things to come. 

Temperatures in Australia are set to rise until around 2050 due to greenhouse gas emissions already in the atmosphere, according to the country’s weather bureau

“Australia is one country where you really can see the signal of global warming,” Karl Braganza, the Bureau of Meteorology’s head of climate monitoring, told reporters on a call. “We’ve locked the degree of warming in until mid-century and that means it’s likely that one of the next strong El Nino events in the coming decade or two will set a new record.”

Western Sydney touched 47.3 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday and 2017 was Australia’s third-hottest year on record. Heat and drought risk devastating crops in Australia, the world’s third-largest exporter of cotton where farm production is forecast to be worth A$59 billion ($46 billion) this financial year.

The Heat is On
Australia has had just one cooler-than-average year since 2005
Since 2005, Australia has notched up seven of its 10 warmest years, the weather bureau said in its annual climate statement.

More heatwaves could stress a power grid that’s struggled to cope with demand as people crank up air-conditioning during the scorching summer months.

Australian Bureau of Meteorology Annual Climate Statement 2017, issued January 2018.

Visible impacts in 2018.................

The Guardian, 9 January 2018:

More than 400 animals have died in one colony alone as temperatures soar above 47C, causing exhaustion and dehydration

Mounds of dead flying foxes in Campbelltown suburb of Sydney, Australia. Photograph: Facebook/Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Tony Windsor on fighting the Santos pipeline


They were there in an attempt to survey a pipeline to convey coal seam gas from gas giant Santos’s proposed Narrabri gas field. As one landholder, David Chadwick, said: the pipeline was the “head of the snake” and if allowed to proceed would provide the infrastructure to convey the gas to Sydney or internationally and provide the political pressure to develop about 850 gas wells near Narrabri, with a view to hundreds more across the Liverpool Plains and associated areas.” [Tony Windsor, former  independent member for the federal seat of New England]

The Saturday Paper, 9-15 December 2017:

Last week I was working with my son Andrew on our farm 25 kilometres north of Coonamble when he received a message that there were trespassers on the neighbouring farm. A digital alert system had been put in place for such an event.

Within minutes, farm vehicles from all the neighbours converged on the scene. Others moved in on the trespassers from the eastern side and in a pincer movement the trespassers became trapped and unable to gain access to their vehicles.

By this time, about 100 agitated and concerned farmers, their employees and families were there to express their disgust at what had just occurred. The police had also arrived.
It was ascertained that these trespassers were not your everyday illegal pig hunters or bushwalkers. But they were no less illegal and in breach of the law.

These trespassers were eventually allowed to leave after the police took their details. They proceeded to another small town called Warren, more than 100 kilometres away, where they were observed acting strangely.

The next day, they were followed on the ground by vehicle and in the air by aircraft and again they invaded private lands without appropriate authority and were hunted off. They returned to Coonamble to complain to police about being harassed, and then they left the district.

The trespassers were dressed in new clothes, trying to look like ecological scientists but without any identification. They had a security officer with them.

The question is why? Why would these people climb over a gate to gain access to the property when on that gate was a sign warning about biosecurity, with the farmer’s mobile phone number on the sign? Why wasn’t contact made? Why were they behaving like this?

It has often been said there will be wars over water. In its own way, the scene I was watching was a skirmish in what has the potential to become a war and rewrite the politics of water, land use and energy in this country. It was also an insight into how threatened the farm community felt and demonstrated how it would be difficult to fight these farmers’ guerilla tactics. It was a warning they were serious players.

It also occurred to me that most people in our major cities would not necessarily understand why a small community would mobilise itself so quickly at an apparent breach of their rights.

This article is an attempt to explain some of the detail and policy clashes that will evolve over the coming year, on the Liverpool Plains, on the plain country west of the Pilliga, and around the Adani coalmine in Queensland.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

ICAC investigating water theft and allegations of NSW government corruption involving party donors


Eventually full details of this investigation will become public, as it cannot seriously be thought to be in the public interest for the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) not to publish findings.

The Australian, 27 October 2017:

ICAC has begun a preliminary ­investigation into whether NSW public officials favoured Nationals donor and irrigator Peter ­Harris by not prosecuting him over ­alleged water theft.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is also investigating whether public officials made decisions in favour of western NSW irrigator and lobbyist Ian Cole by changing water sharing arrangements to benefit him.

A day after The Australian ­revealed that the corruption watchdog was investigating a case where Multicultural Affairs Minister Ray Williams wrote to ­Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair asking for prosecutorial ­action against constituent Garry Bugeja to be dropped, it has emerged that the NSW government is facing a ­series of inquiries over its water policies.

The Berejiklian government is facing the real spectre of a public ICAC inquiry potentially involving the two ministers and at least one former primary industries minister, Katrina Hodgkinson, just months out from the 2019 state election.

ICAC is investigating whether former deputy director-general of the Department of Primary ­Industry Gavin Hanlon disclosed confidential information to ­Barwon-Darling irrigators, allegations that have been the subject of a government inquiry and led to Mr Hanlon’s resignation.

The commission is also understood to be looking at whether any public official failed to properly investigate or prosecute Mr Harris, a cotton farmer from Moree, in northern NSW. ICAC is also understood to be investigating why the department’s strategic investigations unit was disbanded, leading to the abandonment of several water compliance operations.
There is also an investigation into whether any public official acted inappropriately in making changes to the Barwon-Darling Water Sharing Plan to benefit ­irrigator Mr Cole.

Another line of investigation is understood to be whether any person improperly gave access to departmental files and confidential material for the benefit of Mr Harris. Investigations into Mr Cole are understood to also involve whether pumps were attached to a property and were authorised by the department in breach of water laws…..

It was revealed earlier this year that Mr Blair sought law changes which may have benefited Mr Harris by retrospectively approving water-trading rights granted to him that appeared to not comply with the law. But Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton blocked the changes.

Mr Blair also legislated to allow past illegal works to be retrospectively approved — another piece of law which may have helped Mr Harris….

Mr Bugeja was not prosecuted for an alleged ­illegal dam in Sydney after Mr Williams wrote to Mr Blair