Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Farmers protest coal mine plans

Hundreds of farmers in the north-west of New South Wales are protesting about mining expansions outside a coal industry conference in the Liverpool Plains.

About 200 farmers travelled from throughout the region to met outside the annual coal conference in Gunnedah to protest BHP Billiton's Caroona Basin exploration plans.

They want an independent study into the effect this could have on local water supplies in one of the state's biggest food producing areas.

The federal MP for New England, Tony Windsor, has been asked to speak to the conference.

He says local landholders stand to lose their livelihoods if mining destroys inter-connected water tables.

"They have no idea what slashing these arteries can do in terms of potential downstream impacts," he said.

He says the industry should contribute financially towards the study, but he says they will have to overcome their own fears of what a study might find.

"At a government level and at an industry level they know they can't prove you can successfully longwall mine in that sort of flat alluvial plain that's underpinned with underground water systems," he said.

"They know you can't assure the community there is no risk."

The farmers have vowed to take their concerns to Sydney.

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