Save the Walsh Action Group (SWAG) won a battle on 27 November 2009 when the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management refused to give Tableland Earthmoving and Raw Materials (TERM) their approval to conduct sand mining upstream from the Bruce Weir.
Before I continue please consider reading my post Rare Golden sleepy cod threatened by TERM sand mining in Walsh River at Dimbulah as it will give you all the background information you need to understand the threat that these people and this river are facing.
I recently received this clipping from the TablelandsAdvertiser dated 9 December 2009.
It was indeed a battle won, however SWAG’s war is not yet over.
It would appear TERM does not wish to accept the environmentally inappropriate nature of the mining activity they are proposing at this site. TERM want to continue seeking approval regardless of the stress they are inflicting on so many local residents.
It was interesting to note that TERM director Mr Sam Musumeci accused opponents of his scheme of creating a “Flood of misinformation to the community”.
I must admit I think Mr Sam Musumeci has given his scheme’s opponents way too much credit with regards to creating bad publicity for his company!
In fact the evidence which places the most negative light on TERM’s sand mining activities has been entirely manufactured by TERM and TERM alone! Alas we reap as we sow.
Photographs of TERM’s current Sand Mining activities at nearby Springmount certainly are not something that inspires confidence in this company’s environmental sensitivity in my opinion.
I personally found two photos taken by Cairns Post photographer Jake Nowakowski to be the worst advertising any business could wish for.
Check them out here and here
Of course there’s plenty more where they came from!
If I was living by the Walsh River and I found out that the company that conducted this sand mining at Springmount were moving their operation into my back yard I too would be extremely concerned.
Let’s get back to the DERM Paperwork and see what it tells us. I have read the 42 page PDF document provided by DERM to the proponents and it is available for download at the Swag Web site if you are interested.
The proposed extraction area covers approximately 56 hectares of terrestrial and aquatic habitat.
After taking into consideration the proposals impact in relation to the Vegetation Management Act 1999 …..“The chief executive of the Department of Environment and Resource management directs the Assessment Manager must refuse the application.”
Basically the primary reason given for the refusal was that removing vegetation for mining along this already fragmented corridor of vegetation would not leave behind enough habitat for this ecosystem to continue functioning properly.
A terrific photograph by Jake Nowakowski illustrates the importance of this riverside corridor of vegetation very nicely thank you Jake.
As you can see this strip of oasis like vegetation is like a highway of wilderness through much harsher terrain.
DERM have considered the Water Act 2000 and judged that it does not disallow the removal of quarry materials with conditions.
Finally, taking into consideration the Environmental Protection Act 1994 DERM have permitted screening activity however have not approved dredging due to noise pollution which will impact nearby properties and damage to the ecological health of the area by proposed dredging/mining.
I found DERM’s ecological health reasons pretty convincing:
Where to from here?
Well as I said earlier TERM wish to keep pursuing this proposal despite DERM making it abundantly clear it is environmentally flawed and inappropriate.
Swag will keep fighting against this proposal vigorously and I feel sure that anyone who knows right from wrong will support their stance. Speaking of this if you want to register your support for SWAG’s cause you can here .
It’s free and it only takes a moment!
Council will have to decide if they wish to support the people they are charged with representing or if they wish to bow to the demands of big business…The ball is in their court and a lot of Tableland citizens will be watching with interest.
I shall leave you with a “Letter of the Week” from the Tableland Advertiser 18 November 2009 from Cheryl Tonkin, a Tableland resident who’s feelings echo my own!
One more thing before I go!
Here are some photos of the sort of human activity I would like to see continue in this part of the Walsh River!