A threat to natural areas
The unprecedented expansion of the mining and gas industries can have serious negative impacts on natural areas.
With 22% of NSW covered by exploration licences for coal and 25% covered by exploration licences for coal seam gas (CSG), the rapid expansion of these industries is far outstripping the development and implementation of much needed environmental protections. NSW government land use plans have so far failed to provide any definitive protection for natural areas, agricultural land, groundwater or drinking water catchments.
Many important public lands such as state conservation areas, state forests and Travelling Stock Routes face clearing, habitat fragmentation, pollution and destruction, due to coal and gas exploration and production, as well as the development of associated infrastructure. Because of the severe environmental impacts, NPA believes that open cut mining, coal seam gas extraction and related infrastructure should be excluded from these important areas.
Although mining is not allowed in national parks and nature reserves, these areas can still be negatively affected by mining activities that are occurring in the lands immediately around them. For example, exploratory drilling for coal seam gas has taken place in the Putty Valley, just 500 m from the boundary of Wollemi National Park. Mining near the boundaries of national parks and nature reserves can degrade their conservation values in many ways, such as disrupting or polluting rivers or groundwater within a park. NPA strongly advocates for a one kilometer exclusion zone for mining and gas activities to be put in place around all national parks and nature reserves.
A threat to water resources
Mining and gas activities also pose significant threats to the water resources of NSW. Longwall coal mining, which is a form of mining that occurs underground, is undercutting Sydney’s water catchments and contaminating the water with heavy metals. Longwall mining also cracks the bedrock, causing streams to dry up and aquatic habitats, such as wetlands and pools, to disappear.
In addition, licences for coal seam gas exploration also cover Sydney’s drinking water catchments. With the potential impact of extracting millions of groundwater still largely unknown, the possible negative effects of the coal seam gas industry on the groundwater systems of NSW are of great concern. Coal seam gas extraction also produces large amounts of highly toxic contaminated waste water, which impacts both human and environmental health.
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Some of the mining and gas campaigns in NSW
- Lock the Gate Alliance
- Rivers SOS
- Nature Conservation Council of NSW
- Stop Coal Seam Gas Illawarra
- Stop Pilliga Coal Seam Gas
- Maules Creek Community Council
- Protect the Gardens of Stone