Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Call for Minister Garrett to Protect, ‘protected’ swamps

“Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett should intervene to ensure that the nationally endangered swamps on Newnes Plateau are actually protected before more are destroyed by intensive underground coal mining,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“At least three swamps on the Plateau have been severely damaged due to the longwall coal mining,” Mr Muir said.

In May 2005 temperate highland peat swamps on sandstone were listed under Federal environmental laws as an Endangered Ecological Community.  At the same time the swamps were also listed as endangered under state laws and the longwall mining process was identified as a key threatening process to the swamps.  Yet while all these laws flag the threat of mining, nothing has been done to protect the swamps beyond calls for more studies”, he said.

“Studies of the swamps generate considerable amounts of conflicting nonsensical data, and while debate over data continues, so does the damage to the swamps,” said Mr Muir.

“Any mining company or regulatory agency can pursue the “more studies must be done” approach to not doing anything.  That approach has continued on the Plateau for a number of years now, and more damage to these nationally endangered swamps has occurred.  Its time for effective regulatory action to save the remaining swamps,” he said.

“Every action taken by the coal mines on Newnes Plateau that could affect these swamps should be called in by the Environment Minister Peter Garrett and those proposed actions given the big thumbs down until the industry gets the message and protects the remaining nationally endangered swamps”, Mr Muir said.

“Minister Garrett should impose protection zones around the nationally endangered swamps of Newnes Plateau to stop the damage from coal mining.  If the term Nationally Endangered Ecological Community is have meaning, then these diverse and beautiful swamps need to be protected from mining abuse”, he said. 

“If an Environment Minister with strong green credentials (in Peter Garrett’s case being a past President of ACF), cannot take the simple action of protecting nationally endangered swamps from damage, then the chances of any Government successfully addressing complex coal related issues are slight,” said Mr Muir.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)

A short report (html) on Monitoring the Swamp damage is available through this link