2016

16 November 2016. Response from Dr Steven Miles, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef, to letter of 28 September 2016 from Ms Paola Cassoni.

  • Thanks for 28 September email re BNR, and submission on proposed Special Wildlife Reserves
  • He sees no reason that conservation values cannot be prioritised over other land use values when a SWR is proposed
  • Confirms next stage  for Galilee Coal Project is public notice and objections to Mining Lease and Environmental Authority
  • Thanks for kind offer to visit Bimblebox, will explore opportunities

9 November 2016. Letter from Jo-Anne Bragg, CEO and Solicitor for EDO Queensland to Dr Anthony Lynham, Queensland Minister for State Development, Natural Resources and Mines, with logos from 15 conservation organisations in the header including TBA.

  • Please protect our groundwater
  • Limit Coordinator General’s powers to interfere with Adani mine assessments
  • keep water licences and public appeal rights in EPOLA Bill
  • Adani Combined Project should not be supported
  • Water impacts not adequately assessed
  • Land Court outcome for Alpha coal mine
  • Acland Mine Stage 3
  • Revoke ‘critical infrastructure’ status for Adani mine

27 September 2016. Response from Paola Cassoni to Minister Steven Miles MP, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef. Points addressed in this letter:

  • Waratah Coal Mining lease and Environmental Authority progress
  • Queensland government’s ‘strict regulatory framework’ in relation to Paris Climate Agreement, global coal market, groundwater and habitat destruction
  • Prioritization of mining over conservation, and in plan for new Private Protected Areas
  • Dire threat of mining hanging over Nature Refuges
  • Appeal to stop destruction of Bimblebox Naure Refuge; threat to biodiversity conservation from large coal mines in Galilee Basin
  • Invitation to visit Bimblebox

5 July 2016. Response from Minister Steven Miles. Dr Miles discussed the following points in his letter to Ms Paola Cassoni, President, The Bimblebox Alliance:

  • Palaszczuk government considers Nature Refuges to be an important component of the private protected areas estate
  • He seeks to establish a new class of private protected area that recognizes areas of outstanding natural value equivalent to national parks and will offer protection from incompatible land uses such as mining. Eligible nature refuges could apply for inclusion.
  • Any future operation of a coal mine on Bimblebox Nature Refuge would be subject to Queensland’s ‘strict regulatory framework’.

10 June 2019. Letter to Minister Anthony Lynham MP, Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, with 30 May 2016 letter to Min. S. Miles attached. Points discussed:

  • Renewal of Exploration Permit for Coal (EPC) 1040 of great concern
  • Bligh Government was committed to ensuring the protection of nature refuges with high conservation values
  • Queensland government concern about conserving biodiversity, commitment to increasing percentage of protected area estate
  • Must ensure Bimblebox exempted from EPC 1040

No response from Minister Lynham has been received to date.

30 May 2016.  Coal mining and a Nature Refuge are incompatible. This letter to Minister Steven Miles discussed:

  • Expiry of Waratah Coal’s Exploration Permit for Coal (EPC) over Bimblebox Nature Refuge on 21 June, 2016
  • Poor standards of rehabilitation and 8 year delay in remediation following drilling by Waratah Coal
  • Incompatibility of coal mining and the conservation role of a Nature Refuge
  • Special biodiversity values of Bimblebox Nature Refuge and agreements to preserve it in perpetuity
  • Urgent need to exempt Bimblebox from the EPC 1040 tenement on the grounds of long-term biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation.

2015

A letter requesting that the Land Management Online website, originally intended to facilitate communication among Nature Refuges, be re-constructed to better achieve its purpose was emailed from The Bimblebox Alliance Inc. and Protect the Bush Alliance to The Hon Dr Steven Miles, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef, on 5 May 2015. The method used on the site to establish communication between Nature Refuge landholders is unnecessarily complex, and there is no way for Nature Refuges to communicate, if they wish, with the public. We requested that the site be upgraded then a message sent out to all Queensland Nature Refuges. The letter was copied to Allan Williams (Director of Landscape Conservation, Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection) and Peter Spencer (Policy Adviser to Dr Steven Miles). To date, no response has been received.

2013

A large number of people have written to the Federal Minister for the Environment, prior to the announcement of his assessment of the Galilee Coal Project (otherwise known as China First) in December 2013. Read some of the letters here:

2012

‘Nature reserve must be retained’, from Ian Fairweather, letter to the editor, The Courier Mail, 4th April 2012

‘Bimblebox tells tale all should hear’, from Margaret Howes, letter to the editor, The Daily Examiner (Clarence Valley NSW), 27th March 2012

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Bimblebox in central Queensland media, March 2011

One of the Bimblebox team holds grave concerns about the Environmental Impact Assessment process. Instead of submitting comments about Hancock’s proposed mine to the government, he wrote the following letter to local newspapers. The CQ News, a paper in the mining town of Emerald, published it on the 11th March, titled ‘Material wealth or ecological health?’  The Morning Bulletin published it as ‘hot pick’ on the 12th March, titled ‘Government sends mixed messages’.

Just before Christmas, public submissions closed for comments on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Hancock Coal’s Alpha mine project, one of the first of at least 5 proposed mega mines projects in the Galilee Basin alone, projected to produce a minimum of 160 million tonnes of thermal coal for export annually. I have grave concerns over the plans of Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd (HPPL) and total mistrust of the EIS process as a valid means of raising environmental concerns. Loud and unqualified endorsements of HPPL’s plans over a long period from all levels of government, including the Regional Council and Mayor, the State Cabinet and Premier, and a succession of Federal ministers, have effectively pre-empted and marginalized any concerns arising from the public at this stage. It has become apparent, that worse than simply making a mockery of democracy, this EIS process is serving as face-saving façade for those blinded by anticipated profits from the mega mines planned for the Galilee Basin. However, when presented with the facts about likely longer-term impacts, it is hard to imagine that a majority of Australians would put material wealth ahead of ecological health. Most also seem to realise that the mining and burning of coal must cease. Yet our governments continue to attempt to simultaneously advance two entirely incompatible messages: That we must begin to reduce global carbon pollution and that we should proceed to extract ever increasing quantities of coal. Perhaps the burden of historical legalities is preventing us from dealing with serious present realities. In that case, let us put our minds and efforts into rectifying these flawed methods, rather than wasting precious time and energy on charades like this EIS process.

Ian Hoch, Alpha

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Bimblebox in central Queensland media, November 2010

The article ‘Threat to nature refuge: owner pleads with mining magnate’ appeared in the Morning Bulletin on November 20, 2010.  It was based on a longer article by Simon Green which ran as the page one lead of the Central Queensland News on November 19, 2010.

‘Bimblebox: rejecting, not pleading’ was written as a letter to the editor in response to the above article by the Bimblebox team. It appeared in the Central Queensland News on November 29, 2010.  A similar letter ‘Win for mines is loss for us’ was published in The Morning Bulletin the same week.

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Queensland Country Life February 2009

Below is a powerful letter that appeared in the Queensland Country Life in February 2009. Please note the petition is no longer running.

Dear Sir,

Queensland Country Life has given excellent coverage of the all-too-real threat to grazing and farming land from mining interests. As reported, mining holds an absolute right over virtually all other land uses. The more careful, sustainable use of our natural resources is disregarded when confronted by large scale mining.

Too often primary production and conservation are seen as contradictory when in fact, many agricultural and grazing properties are also important conservation areas. Some are covered by perpetual Nature Refuge Agreements, signed between landholders and the state government to “permanently preserve the land’s ecological values”.

As secure as they may seem at the time, these agreements are meaningless in the face of mining interests. The protection of vital habitats and biodiversity in Nature Refuges is apparently only worthwhile if there’s no coal beneath them. When coal is found, the refuges are in effect regarded as mere overburden.

Landowners are encouraged and supported by the Environment Protection Agency [now DERM] to safeguard remnant vegetation. Similarly, recognition and assistance is given for time and money spent controlling feral animals and weeds. But these efforts mean little when a mining company stakes a claim.

It is astonishing that those few privately owned sanctuaries left to support native flora and fauna can be sacrificed for coal, with all we know about species extinction, carbon pollution and fickle global markets. Currently nearly 100 Nature Refuges in Queensland are subject to mineral exploration permits, about half of these for coal.

One refuge in the state’s central-west is the stage for a tragic farce in which the state government acts as cheer squad for the potential destruction of land and native habitats they previously helped protect.

Bimblebox Nature Refuge, 50 km north-west of Alpha, was bought in 2001 with support from the Federal Government for inclusion in the National Reserve System. Preservation of this intact bush land in the Desert Uplands is now combined with long-running research projects by the CSIRO, DPI&F, Birds Australia, the EPA, and Queensland Herbarium. It also serves as a test-case for sustainable cattle grazing.

Last year this Nature Refuge was extensively drilled in preparation for a massive coal project. Without government intervention it could be destroyed within a few years. When the State Government signs Nature Refuge Agreements, perhaps they should stamp them in big bold letters “only valid in the absence of mining interests”. Clearly it is time for the State Government to properly protect Nature Refuges and provide certainty for their owners and guardians.

As a co-owner of Bimblebox Nature Refuge, I have initiated an on-line parliamentary petition in the attempt to ensure protection for this and other refuges. Those interested can visit www.bimblebox.org for more details. Anyone living or registered to vote in Queensland is eligible to sign the petition.

Yours truly,

Paola Cassoni