Residents fearing entire Upper Hunter communities could be wiped out as a result of mining have this week made a stand.
More than 100 people who attended a community meeting in Jerrys Plains on Tuesday unanimously demanded that an immediate stop be made to all coal mining proposals and developments in their backyard.
Five mining expansion proposals already surround the Upper Hunter town and growing concerns from residents about these projects was the catalyst for the forum.
The meeting was hosted by the Jerrys Plains and District Progress Association and ran for more than two hours.
Association president Peter Day said the meeting proved the plight of the Upper Hunter village was not an isolated one, indicated by the number of people who travelled from across the Hunter to attend.
The meeting was also a chance to put community members on the same page.
“It was a combination of education and awareness of what’s happening,” Mr Day said.
“(And) to a degree was a confirmation.
“You heard things you already thought you were going to hear.
“(But) hearing it and validating it with facts and figures really made it all hit home and makes you realise how bad everything is getting.
“(The meeting) helped to get the message out there about the cumulative impacts and rapid growth (of mining) and where it’s all heading and what it can do if it is not properly controlled or regulated.”
A number of mining-related issues were addressed by guest speakers including air quality by Dr John Drinan from the Singleton Shire Healthy Environment Group and water quality by Arthur Burns from Hunter Valley Water Users Association.
Activist Bev Smiles spoke of her first hand experiences, and watching her own community of Wollar, south-west of Merriwa, be overtaken and brought out by a coal company.
The need for Upper Hunter industries to co-exist was also discussed by Hunter Thoroughbred Association member John Sunderland.
“All our presenters weren’t saying ‘no mining’, they were just saying ‘no more mining’ … enough is enough,” Mr Day said.
A resolution debated and decided on at the meeting called for immediate action from local, state and federal levels looking into the effects of rapid mining expansions on air quality and water resources, and, to halt all coal developments in the Jerrys Plains region.
An action group to be named Jerrys in Jeopardy is also in the process of forming.
Mr Day said the progress association and the soon-to-be-formed action group would work together to fight for Jerrys Plains and keep residents informed on mining matters.
“Our role as the progress association is to support, develop and progress the community and we will take this as far as we can,” he said.
Mining expansions threatening the township of Jerrys Plains
* Rio Tinto’s Carrington West expansion
* Anglo American’s Drayton South extension
* NuCoal’s Doyle’s Creek proposed mine
* NuCoal’s Plashett exploration licence
* Peabody Coal’s Wambo expansion