Geoff Helisma, Clarence Valley Independent
Bellingen Shire Council (BSC) is the second council to support Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) anti-mining stance.
On June, 30 Bellingen councillors unanimously backed mayor Dominic King’s mayoral minute, to “support the VC community in seeking a moratorium on future mining and mining exploration in the Clarence Valley [River] catchment” and “advocate to the Premier Gladys Berejiklian MP, Deputy Premier John Barilaro MP and the Minister for Energy & Environment Matt Keen MP”.
On May 27, Glen Innes Severn Council (GISC) mayor, Carol Sparks, tabled a mayoral minute to “support Clarence Valley Council (CVC) in seeking a moratorium on future mining and mining exploration in the Clarence Valley catchment” – she used her casting vote to get the minute over the line.
At the BDC meeting, Cr King read out point 1 of CVC’s resolution, to provide background to his fellow councillors.
“Councillors, we do know there is a push for mining in the upper catchment of the Clarence and also in the Nymboida,” he said, commenting on the factors raised in the CVC decision.
“The statement spoke about high risk to so many industries and so much of our environment and ecosystems, the cultural risk, as well as our economic risk; and I think it’s certainly in these times that it’s not in our benefit for us to start taking a risk with that waterway.
“We know that this shire, as well, relies heavily on our river systems.
“So, this is asking that we don’t mine areas of high rainfall where there is a chance that it will have lasting effects on the environment and our economic opportunity.
“We do protect those things that are so valued in our community, so I have no qualms about putting this motion up to support what the Clarence Valley councillors have put.”
Cr Toni Wright-Turner said the mayor’s “recognition of the likelihood of really high rainfall events, much increased on previous times” meant “the headwaters of our water catchments become really significant areas that need protection”.
The mayor said, “We do know, on the plateau, we have the headwaters of the [Clarence River], so we certainly are a part of that issue.”
Clarence Valley’s mayor, Jim Simmons, said he was “pleased” that two neighbouring councils had supported CVC’s stance, however, while he said he “would be opposed to anything that put [river dependent] industries at risk” and that his primary “interest … is just seeing that council’s resolution is conveyed to the NSW Government”, he said there were other factors to consider.
“Sure, everyone living in the Clarence Valley wants to continue to do so without risking the health of their fellow people and families … [but] we also have to be careful with the repercussions if mining was ceased altogether,” he said.
He said that “a lot of commodities depend on products from mining”.
“If they don’t have [access] to a resource, the costs of all sorts of things that use products from mining … we would have to import a lot [of those resources] and it would force costs up,” he said.
“There are lot of things to be considered – basically I don’t want to risk health of communities and rivers.”
Meanwhile, Clarence Catchment Alliance’s 10,000-plus signature petition is due to be debated, pending any forced changes due to covid.
“NSW Ministers and MPs, including our local member Mr Gulaptis, will debate our No Mines Clarence Valley petition on August 5th at 4pm in the NSW Legislative Assembly in Sydney,” CCA coordinator, Shae Fleming wrote on the group’s Facebook Page on June 20.
“A moratorium on mining is what we all want, all it takes is some key taps to get thoughts into font.
“So please be polite, and don’t dilly dally, write to MPs this week, so they protect the Clarence Valley.”
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 28 July 2021.