Unchecked resources sector will degrade environment and health
ENVIRONMENTAL activist Drew Hutton's 20-year fight to change the way open cut coal and coal seam gas is extracted in Queensland is far from over.
Ipswich has been at the forefront of Mr Hutton's "Lock the Gate" cause in recent years, with more than 100 residents in the Bremer Valley area, south-west of Ipswich, joining the anti-co-operation protest action.
Although protesting that he is not anti-mining, Mr Hutton has campaigned for years against the kind of backroom decisions over the industry which he believes will destroy the environment.
"Fifteen years ago most mining was carried out in remote areas and nobody took much notice," he said.
"Now, with CSG in particular, it is infringing on good agricultural land and people are starting to look at the environmental impacts more closely.
"I'm not saying we shouldn't have any mining; what I'm saying is that it shouldn't be happening where there are other land uses like farming, closely settled areas or water quality issues."
Lower Mt Walker resident Shirley Doyle said people power had so far proven successful in keeping OGL Resources out of the Bremer Valley, where she believes open cut coal mining would be disastrous for the natural environment.
Land owners were given something of a reprieve recently when it emerged that OGL was not able to raise the capital required to start mining in the area.
"We are continuing with the campaign because there is nothing to say that another company won't come in and pick up where OGL left off," Mrs Doyle said.
"My son-in-law owns this property and it has been in his family since the 1800s. A lot of people have been in this area a long time.
"When this started he thought he was going to be walked over and forced out, but now he can see that through people power you can have a voice."
Mr Hutton acknowledges the courage of land owners and other protestors in his new online book.
Mining: The Queensland Way, aims to show how the decisions made between mining companies and multiple levels of government over the last half century will lead to serious environment degradation and possible public health issues.
"I have been trying to achieve reform in the mining industry since 1991, and I wrote the first part of this book after failing in that aim in 2000," Mr Hutton said.
"Prior to that, I had been lobbying the State Government and getting media coverage and had come to an agreement with (then Premier) Peter Beattie - which he later reneged on.
"At that point I stepped away from the cause in disgust."
Mr Hutton said he rediscovered his passion in 2010, about the time the Lock the Gate campaign kicked off.
He was so encouraged by the increased public awareness that was whipped up around the controversy over coal seam gas extraction practices, that he finished the last three chapters of the book.
Mr Hutton said land owners were one of the keys to ensuring mining companies were held accountable.
"The stakes are high," he said.
"If the resources sector gets its way, then Australia will continue to see a rise in the power of the mining companies and a diminution of democracy, sustainability and cultural diversity.
"They will not achieve this, however, without a struggle of massive proportions."
Mining: The Queensland Way, is available through the Lock the Gate Shop: lockthegateorg.au/shop. It is also in the iTunes store or through Amazon.com and Kindle. All proceeds will go to Lock the Gate Alliance.