Tag Archives: Shenhua

Launch of Liberals’ ‘Friends of Coal’ group is a slap in the face for NSW Farmers

Peter Phelps IPA

MEDIA RELEASE - 15 July 2015

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today condemned the launch of the ‘Friends of Coal’ group by the Liberal Party saying it was offensive to all those who are concerned about the impact of the Shenhua coal mine on farming in the Liverpool Plains, and called on National Party MPs to boycott the event.

“By Launching this ‘Friends of Coal’ group today, the NSW Liberals have shown a complete disregard for all those who want to see our food bowl in the Liverpool Plains saved from coal mining,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“If this is a joke, then it is a cruel joke and shows enormous insensitivity to those whose farms and communities are being threatened by coal mining.

“All National Party MPs should boycott this event,” he said.

Invite sent to all NSW parliamentarians:

Dear Colleagues,

On Tuesday, 11 August, on behalf of the Friends of Coal, I will be hosting a ‘Carnival of Coal’ at NSW Parliament House to declare support for coal and associated industries and to send a loud and clear message that action is needed now to protect a secure, inexpensive energy future.

Please join me at 6:30pm in the Waratah Room at Parliament House, Macquarie Street in Sydney for drinks and nibbles with leading coal industry figures.

Join with the Friends of Coal to end the war on coal and keep Australia with a jobs-rich, carbon-based energy future.

It would be great to see you drop by the Waratah Room on Tuesday, 11 August, if you have the chance.

If you cannot make it to the event on Tuesday, 11 August, you can still be a part of the movement by downloading this picture and placing it on your office door, and sharing a picture of yourself on social media and with a miner, a train driver, a power plant worker, a steel worker, a wharfie, a sailor, or any other person whose job directly benefits from the wonderful coal industry in Australia today.

Please RSVP for catering purposes.

Yours sincerely,

Hon Dr Peter Phelps MLC
Government Whip in the Legislatve Council of NSW
Parliament House, Macquarie Street
SYDNEY   NSW   2000
Ph: 02 9230 3462
Fx: 02 9230 3568

Give Shenhua back its $300 million to protect the Liverpool Plains

Shenhua land

MEDIA RELEASE - 13 July 2015

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said that the NSW government should give Shenhua back its $300 million and ask it to abandon plans to mine coal in the heart of the fertile Liverpool Plains.  He claimed that the Shenhua company could recover a significant proportion of the $700 million it has spent on the project.

If Shenhua are paid back the $300 million exploration licence fee and sell the $200+ million worth of farm land they have bought, they should recover up to $500 million of the $700 million they have spent, allowing the company to protect its reputation and save money.

“Premier Mike Baird should offer to give back the $300 million that corrupt former mining minister Ian Macdonald extracted from Shenhua for the mining exploration licence, so that the prime agricultural land of the Liverpool Plains can be protected,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“It is only fair that we hand back the money if the company does not go ahead with mining the Liverpool Plains.

“The $300 million for the exploration licence and a further $200 million on grant of the mining licence has hung over the planning process like a bad smell.  Many people see such large sums of money as corrupting the process and making it near impossible for either governments or planning officials to refuse the mine.

“It’s time someone in power put the national interest first and protected the best agricultural land in Australia.  Premier Mike Baird has the opportunity to save our food bowl in the Liverpool Plains.”

Shenhua land

Land bought by Shenhua in the Liverpool Plains 


Shenhua Watermark coal mine approved to ruin farmland while Barnaby Joyce sits on his hands

Liverpool Plains panorama

Senator Larissa Waters & Jeremy Buckingham MLC

Media release - Wednesday, 8 July 2015


The Greens strongly condemn the Abbott Government’s approval of the Chinese-owned Shenhua Watermark coal mine in the Liverpool Plains to ruin high-quality farmland and cook the planet.

Australian Greens Deputy Leader and mining spokesperson, Senator Larissa Waters, said:

“The Abbott Government is again putting overseas mining interests ahead of farmers and our climate.

“This mega coal mine is set to produce 268 million tonnes of coal over 30 years, just three kilometres from the nearest down of Breeza, yet the climate impacts were not even legally considered.

“The Liverpool Plains, with rich black soil, excellent water resources and ideal climatic conditions, is one of our most important farming regions and its productivity is 40 per cent above the national average.

“The community will be appalled at their local member and Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, who has grossly failed to protect the Liverpool Plains.

“With the coal price in structural decline, it’s economically insane to be sacrificing valuable farming land for the dying coal industry, especially when we have viable renewable energy alternatives.”

The Greens NSW agriculture spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said:

“Mining in the heart of the best agricultural area in NSW is a betrayal of farmers and the national interest.

“The blowhards in the National Party have lost all credibility, being in government at both state and federal levels they were still unable or unwilling to stop this disastrous mine.

“No doubt the local farmers will take a stand to directly oppose the construction of this mine and the Greens are ready and willing to stand side-by-side with them.”


Senator Waters (Monique Vandeleur) 0419 626 725

Jeremy Buckingham (Max Phillips) 0419 444 916

D-Day looms for Barnaby Joyce 


MEDIA RELEASE - 8 July 2015

The Greens NSW agriculture spokesperson said the federal government’s looming decision on whether to permit the giant Shenhua Watermark coal mine on the Liverpool Plains was a test whether Barnaby Joyce can deliver and protect the prime agricultural resources of the Liverpool Plains, or whether he’s a patsy to the Liberal and mining industry.  Environment Minister Greg Hunt is set to make a determination by 9 July.

Questioned on the issue on 25 February 2015, Minister Joyce told Parliament:

“I acknowledge that the only area we now have to deal with it is under the water trigger, but we can only deal with it in a specific area. We are looking at this. We are doing our very best in the very limited area we have, because of state legislation and because a corrupt Labor Party minister set this up.

“D-Day for Barnaby Joyce now looms. Not only is he agriculture minister and a senior member of the National Party, but Joyce is the local MP.  His constituents on the Liverpool Plains and the broader farming community expect him to act protect some of the best agricultural soils and water resources in Australia,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“This decision is a test for Barnaby Joyce.  He’s called this mine ‘an absurdity’ and a ‘grave mistake’, but what good is an agriculture minister and local MP who can’t convince his own government or the state Coalition government to act?

“Crocodile tears, mock outrage and hand wringing will not protect the black soils of the Liverpool Plains from the giant Chinese state-owned coal mine proposed and it is time Barnaby Joyce did something a bit brave.

“The Shenhua Watermark coal mine represents a complete failure of the political system with politicians from all sides shirking responsibility.  It has cruised through the assessment system despite the majority of people and politicians hating the idea of mining in the heart our best farming country.

“People will look back at the lack of action and think what a bunch of gutless cowards those politicians were.”


Greg Hunt should reject Shenhua coal mine after critical expert advice

coal mine

MEDIA RELEASE - 7 May 2015

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt must reject the Shenhua Watermark coal mine in the heart of the productive Liverpool Plains, after the  Independent Expert Scientific Committee’s advice on the Shenhua Watermark coal project was released .

“If this mine goes ahead it will be a national disgrace,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“From this report it is clear that the Shenhua Watermark mine application is woefully deficient with inadequate water monitoring programmes, uncertainty surrounding the risks to threatened ecological communities, no plans for what happens if key trigger values are exceeded and the potential for long-term salinity.

“The ball is now firmly in Greg Hunt and Barnaby Joyce’s court and they have to decide whether they are prepared to put Australia’s food bowl at risk for the short term profits of a Chinese Government owned mining giant.”

According to the IESC report:


  • The risks to Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems, including EPBC-listed ecological communities (such as White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland), from the mine “remain uncertain”. (p2)
  • Change to groundwater pressure and/or level within the Upper Namoi Alluvium groundwater resource is the “key potential impact associated with the proposed project” (pA1)
  • there are “currently no plans” for the appropriate management responses if trigger values are exceeded. (p9)
  • there is the “potential for local-scale impacts to surface water quality and long-term salinity changes associated with the final landform.” (pA1)
  • the IESC is not satisfied the proposed surface water and groundwater monitoring programmes are robust and any potential impacts on water resources and water related assets will be detected (p7)
  • There is a risk of cumulative impacts to the south of the proposed project area (p4)



Dormant Rural Lands SEPP should be used to protect the Liverpool Plains


MEDIA RELEASE - 6 February 2015

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today announced the Greens policy to use the existing Rural Lands State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) to permanently protect the Liverpool Plains and other key agricultural areas from mining and gas extraction, criticising both the current Coalition government and the former Labor government for not using the Rural Lands SEPP despite its existence in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.

“The Greens believe it is critical to protect the highly productive soils of the Liverpool Plains and other areas, and will push to have productive agricultural lands protected through the existing Rural Lands SEPP,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“It is damning that both the Nationals and the Labor have ignored the Rural Lands SEPP when it could protect key agricultural lands. Kevin Anderson should explain to the electorate exactly why it has been dormant?

“There has been so much hand-wringing and dithering on land use conflict when certainty could be provided by using the Rural Lands SEPP. It could be done in a week by a ministerial decision that is then published in the weekly Government Gazette.

“The government’s Strategic Regional Land Use policy is an obvious failure now the Shenhua Watermark mine has been approved. BHP’s Caroona mine continues to progress through the planning system.

“Both the Planning Assessment Commission and the NSW Chief Scientist have recommended the government act to rule out mining in certain areas. The Rural Lands SEPP is a mechanism already in place that would allow this protection to be granted tomorrow.

“Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land and Critical Industry Clusters have already been mapped. While the Greens believe more land should have been included in these areas, it provides a basis to start scheduling lands for protection under the Rural Land SEPP,” he said..

Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

NSW Greens policy intiative

Use the Rural Lands SEPP to declare the Liverpool Plains off-limits to mining & gas

The Rural Lands State Environmental Planning Policy 2008 (SEPP) has existed under the Environmental Planning and Protection Act 1979 Act, since 2008. Part 4 of the Rural Lands SEPP’s enables the government to identify and protect ‘State significant agricultural land’. The SEPP could be used to prohibit mining within a defined geographic area on grounds that the land is agriculturally valuable.

The Rural Land SEPP has been available but has not been used

Despite the existence of the Rural Lands SEPP since 2008, neither the former Labor government nor the current Coalition government have used it to protect agricultural land.

The Greens believe the NSW government should, as a matter of priority, use the Rural Lands SEPP and declare certain geographic areas of NSW off-limits to mining and coal seam gas. This would mean identifying and listing certain geographical areas in Schedule 2 of the SEPP.

This could be done quickly. It involves the Minister for Planning signing an order which would then be published in the weekly Government Gazette.

The Greens want the Rural Land SEPP used to protect the Liverpool Plains

The Greens believe the first area to be put in the schedule should be the Liverpool Plains. The highly productive black soils of the Liverpool Plains, combined with the excellent water resources and climate of the area, make it Australia’s best agricultural area. Protecting this area is not only sensible from an economic perspective, but also strategic in a world where food security is becoming more important. The Greens value the Liverpool Plains as a key agricultural area and believe it should be permanently protected from mining and gas extraction.

The Strategic Regional Land Use Policy has failed

Land use conflict between mining, gas extraction and agriculture has been a major issue in NSW over the last term of government. The Liverpool Plains has been at the centre of this conflict with two proposals for major coal mines (BHP’s Caroona project and Shenhua’s Watermark project) as well as active Petroleum Exploration Licences over the area.

The current government’s Strategic Regional Land Use Policy is widely acknowledged to have failed, and according to the Department of Planning, is to be replaced by ‘Regional Growth Plans’. The policy is flawed because the government failed to declare areas off-limits, and failed to put a gate in their gateway process, meaning that mining could still occur on even the best agricultural land. The approval of the Shenhua Watermark mine highlights the failure of this policy.

The Strategic Regional Land Use Plan did produce maps of Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land as well as identify Critical Industry Clusters. While the Greens believe more land should have been included in these areas, it provides a basis to start scheduling lands for protection under the Rural Land SEPP.

Protection for the Liverpool Plains has been recommended

The NSW Chief Scientist’s Review of Coal Seam Gas recommended that the government provide certainty by identifying areas where gas extraction can and can not occur.

Recommendation 5 says:

“That Government use its planning powers and capability to designate those areas of the State in which CSG activity is permitted to occur, drawing on appropriate external expertise as necessary.”

The Planning Assessment Commission into the Shenhua Watermark coal mine also recommended the Liverpool Plains be protected from mining, with its review report stating on page 8:

“The Commission acknowledges the significance and productivity of the black soil plains and agrees with the view that the plains should be preserved for agricultural production.”


“The NSW government should undertake some more detailed work or refinements to identify and protect those highly valuable, fertile black soils where mining should be prohibited.”

It’s time to end land use conflict in the Liverpool Plains

Scheduling the Liverpool Plains would provide certainty for farmers and the community, and put an end to the land use conflict that has gone on for far too long. The legal framework is available under the Rural Lands SEPP and the Greens believe it is time it was used.

Greens say a plan to phase out coal is prudent


MEDIA RELEASE - 11 February 2015

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today questioned why the Labor and Liberal Parties were afraid to talk about the future of the thermal coal industry, saying the Greens were the only party willing to grapple with the issue of coal and climate change, and coal’s structural decline after launching the Greens policy for a managed phase out of coal.

“It’s clear that to avoid dangerous climate change we need to phase out thermal coal mining.  The question is will NSW do the prudent thing and have a planned and managed phase out strategy for coal, or will we wait for a chaotic collapse of the industry?” asked Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Scientists conclude that 95% of NSW coal reserves must stay in the ground to avoid dangerous climate change – that’s only three years production at current rates.  NSW urgently needs to prepare a strategy to phase out coal and a managed transition to a diversified economy and to provide jobs.

“The Greens call for ‘no new coal mines’ is now moving to a policy of phasing out existing thermal coal mines.  A decade of government failure to have a plan to phase out coal has only made the task more urgent and difficult.

“Neither the Coalition nor Labor are willing to face up to the issue of coal and have an honest conversation with voters.  It is irresponsible to turn a blind eye to this major climate and energy issue and to just hope and pray that there is no collapse down the line.

“Coal is in structural decline as the world shifts energy sources.  Prices are at record lows, many mines are operating at a loss, and the industry is shedding jobs – now less than 20,000 in NSW.

“There will be economic and social consequences of a phase out of coal, but there are also significant and much larger consequences if we ignore the issue.

“Economic analysts around the world are now recognising that all fossil fuel reserves cannot be burnt and some reserves will have to stay in the ground and will be stranded assets.

“The Greens believe it is prudent to draft a phase out strategy for coal that reviews all existing coal mines and takes into account the socio-economic factors of the coal producing regions, balances the impacts and provides direction and assistance to diversify the regional economies into sustainable industries.

“The flip side of phasing out coal is building a large scale renewable energy industry. This will generate considerable employment and economic activity, particularly for regional NSW.

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916


NSW Greens policy initiative

A plan to phase out coal and protect the climate


95% of NSW’s coal reserves must remain unburnt to avoid dangerous climate change

Scientists are saying that if we are to avoid dangerous climate change and limit global warming to 2°C throughout the 21st Century then an historic and rapid transition away from fossil fuels is required.

A recent paper published in the journal Nature calculated that in order to have at least a 50% chance of keeping to no more than a 2°C rise in global temperatures, cumulative carbon emissions between 2011 and 2050 must be limited to around 1,100 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent.  The paper surveyed global fossil fuel reserves and calculated a carbon budget of exactly how much of each reserve can be burnt in order to avoid breaching 2 degrees of global warming.  The study estimates that for Australia 95% of our coal reserves must be left in the ground.

For NSW this means that only a further 575 million tonnes, or just over three years of production at current rates, of the 11.5 billion tonnes of recoverable coal reserves can be mined and burnt if we are to ensure 95% of our reserves remain in the ground.

Coal is already in structural decline with many mines uneconomic at current prices.  A transition away from coal is inevitable, it’s a question of how quickly and how it is managed.

The Greens have a plan for a phase out of existing coal mines.

The Greens plan is to:

  • Set a clear limit on remaining coal mining in NSW in line with what scientists conclude we can extract – less than 600 million tonnes of coal in NSW.
  • Develop a phase out strategy for phasing out coal mining that accounts for, and balances, the socio-economic impacts of the phase out of the industry.
  • Reassess all current coal mining licences and approvals in accordance with remaining coal mining limit, and reduce allocations in line with the phase out strategy.
  • Legislate to ensure that no compensation is payable to coal mining and fossil fuel exploration companies. Investors have been aware of the potential impact of addressing climate change on their industry for many decades.

The Greens’ phase out plan for NSW will include:

  • An end to all coal exports by 2020;
  • A ban on all new coal mines;
  • A ban on all fossil fuel exploration;
  • Timetable a phase out of existing coal mines;
  • A transition package for effected workers and small businesses;
  • A rehabilitation package for affected land and water;
  • Fast-tracking investment in renewable energy to replace fossil-fuel energy and displaced employment from the coal sector;
  • Regional Development plan to provide alternative industries for affected regions.
  • An energy efficiency program to reduce business, household and public sector energy consumption.

Labor, Liberals and Nationals are all wedded to coal

The Baird government has nailed its colours to the mast on coal. The government has approved 1.3 billion tonnes of coal mining (2.5 times the total remaining coal budget) since September 2014.  This includes the enormously controversial Shenhua Watermark coal mine in the heart of the fertile Liverpool Plains.  NSW Farmers Association President Fiona Simson said of the Shenhua approval: “This decision represents a complete policy failure by the NSW Government to protect any of the state’s high value agricultural land and water.”

Premier Mike Baird appeared at NSW Mining dinner and committed to fast-track coal mining approvals.  At the dinner Mr Baird said: “I am tonight drawing a line in the sand on this. NSW must do better and I assure you we will” and Planning Minister Pru Goward then provided ‘directions’ to the Planning Assessment Commission.

While Labor promote their position of a moratorium of coal seam gas, Labor are silent on coal mining – refusing to provide comment to journalists.  As shadow environment minister, Luke Foley was rumoured to be working on a policy to phase out coal, but backed away from it when confronted a few years ago.

A rising tide against coal

Currently in Australian politics there is a collective cognitive dissonance, where two fundamentally contradictory positions are maintained.  The Coalition and Labor state they are committed to reducing emissions to keep global warming under 2 degrees, but at the same time support the continuation and expansion of the coal industry.  These two positions are physically incompatible, regardless of what political spin is applied.

As a society we must honestly face these limits and make a plan to shift our energy production to non-fossil fuel sources.  To pretend we can continue to mine coal indefinitely is dishonest.

Increasing numbers of people are understand that we must rapidly phase out coal to avoid dangerous levels of climate change. Many scientists, have called for a phase out of coal.  Climate scientist, James Hansen the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies wrote in 2009 “coal is the single greatest threat to civilisation and all life on our planet”.

Economists are increasingly assessing the risk of fossil fuel reserves becoming stranded assets.  Deutsche Bank Research Haus notes: “To put it plainly, if the currently agreed climate change targets are to be met with any reasonable certainty, over half the proven fossil fuel reserves would have to stay where they are – underground.”

The Greens have been calling for a transition away from coal since at least 2007 when Bob Brown called for a phase out strategy, and the time for action is fast running out.  The next term of government will be critical in preparing a transition plan, or else, failing the climate and our children.  Inaction will cost trillions of dollars globally, up to a 20 per cent reduction in GDP by the end of this century.

Metallurgical coal and thermal coal

The Greens recognise that metallurgical coal (coking coal) is necessary as a feedstock for making steel.  The Greens will work to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions from metallurgical uses of coal are minimised by enforcing world’s best practices in process efficiency; maximising feed-stock recycling; and regulations to require the use of manufactured materials that minimise embodied emissions.

Burning and exporting thermal coal for electricity generation is the main issue and major contributor to emissions and climate change. It is thermal coal that is the focus of this policy.


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