06 August 2012

Beyond Coal and Gas Forum

by Ellie Smith, Mackay Conservation Group

Over the weekend of 28-29 July, over 80 people from all over Queensland, along with some visitors from NSW and Victoria, gathered just south of Mackay to learn about and discuss the impacts of the Central Queensland coal and CSG boom on our environment, communities and economy at the Beyond Coal and Gas Forum.

     The weekend was an extremely energising event. Participants went home feeling more powerful and optimistic about their chances of protecting their communities and their livelihoods from the impacts of the massive boom in coal and CSG that is planned for Central and North Queensland.

     Stories were told, experiences shared, and valuable connections were made that will hopefully help to break down the feeling of isolation that so many people feel when they are confronted by mining developments on their doorstep.
     Experts presented on topics including the health impacts of coal dust, social impacts of the expansion of a fly-in-fly-out workforce, economic impacts of the two-speed economy and environmental and groundwater impacts of mining and gas developments. Seasoned campaigners and activists shared tips and tools for effective action.
     The full program can be found at www.beyondcoalandgas.org/program
     The forum was held in Louisa Creek, a sleepy beach-side community neighbouring the Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay coal terminals 40km south of Mackay. It was a fitting venue for the gathering.
     The communities around Louisa Creek have been fragmented by the existence of Queensland’s biggest coal export facilities and plans for two more terminals in the close  vicinity. Local community members expressed their relief that the participants at the forum were now aware of their plight and they could see how their efforts to protect their communities fit into a larger story of the coal and CSG industries taking liberties across the coal bearing regions of the State.
      On Monday some participants stayed on for a day of strategic planning. Plans were made for coordinating better communication and collaboration across the movement, more support for landholders and communities opposing mines and related infrastructure and a concerted campaign to stop new export facilities from being approved.
     For more information contact forum organiser Ellie Smith at the Mackay Conservation Group on (07) 4953 8080