Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Protecting our coastline




Noting that:

a. Council is obliged to represent the interests of the residents and ratepayers (Local Government Act 1993, Section 232)

b. Since the closure of the BHP steelworks, tourism has become an important part of Newcastle’s economy, with our “pristine beaches” being one of the drawcards (Newcastle City Council website)

Newcastle City Council:

1. Opposes the coal gasification process off the Newcastle coastline.

2. Makes a formal submission to both the NSW government and Federal government who are jointly handling the exploration licence application, calling for:

i) the environmental impact of both the exploration activity and the potential mining activity associated with this application to be fully assessed before any exploration licence application is considered;

ii) the rejection of the application based on current information and the risk to the marine environment.

iii) The prohibition of coal exploration off the Newcastle coastline

3. Actively engages with the Newcastle community on the impacts of such offshore mining proposals and supports any appropriate community campaign or event related to this issue.

4. Sends a copy of this resolution to the relevant local State and Federal MPs and neighbouring councils.


1. The company Energie Future Pty Ltd has applied to explore for seabed coal deposits in an almost 6,000 km2 zone off the NSW coast stretching from Stockton Bight to the Illawarra.

2. The environmental impact of coal exploration on the ocean floor is potentially huge - geotechnical studies, seismic testing and drilling could disrupt whale migration and marine life breeding cycles.

3. The potential of pollution not only through emissions, leaks and spillage but also visually, can be measured not only in environmental cost but economic as a major tourist drawcard of Newcastle, our beautiful coastline, stands to be affected.

4. Affected councils along the coast as well as many Sydney councils have or are planning to move similar motions, including a motion carried unanimously by Gosford City Council.

5. Should the company proceed with mining, they will drill into the seabed, ignite the coal in-situ and convert it to syngas, using a highly experimental process called offshore underground coal gasification, where the environmental impact could be:
  • enormous vibrations and shockwaves, seabed floor damage and sediment disturbances, causing damage to marine ecosystems.
  • the constant risk of spills and leaks from shipping and construction activities,
  • pollution and degradation of our coastal waters and beaches,
  • threat of visual pollution if the company constructed drilling platforms or transfer and storage terminals near the shore. The exploration licence comes within 5 kilometres of the coast.
6. The Government should not allow a mining company to risk our coastline for a speculative profit driven mining venture.

7. The coal industry promotes underground coal gasification as a ‘clean green source of energy’, but in truth, if it works in the ocean it would likely be a highly energy intensive and destructive mining method that pollutes the sea, harms marine life, scares off whales and produces CO2 as a waste product.

8. In NSW exploration is merely the first stage of full-scale mining, and if the mining company finds coal resources in the seabed they will seek to mine there at any cost to our environment.

9. Council can exercise leadership in environmental responsibility by actively opposing the proposal, encouraging community engagement, issuing media releases, streamlining applications for use of community centres, beaches, parks or other public spaces as required by community groups organising opposition.

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