There are some world class national parks and wild areas in the Top End of the Northern Territory of Australia. Many private landholders are part of the Land for Wildlife Program and protect our natural heritage by making sure that there is healthy land left for native flora and fauna.
Unfortunately our political leaders are selling our places of beauty to international mining companies with no social responsibility and sense of place or beauty.
Rural Residents’ Rights Group supports the Lock-the-Gate alliance. Whether large-scale shale gas or coal seam gas is intended to add to ‘developing the north’, it is for export rather than for domestic use. Ripping up Country and making it into wasteland shows disrespect for the environment and disempowers custodians of the land and water.
People are fighting back.
The plans for a 622 km long pipeline from Tennant Creek to Mt Isa in Queensland have been agreed to by the NT Government. The proposal has a 20 km wide planning corridor.While the EIS was in draft form, the proponents, Jemena, were advertising for contractors and sub-contractors A final Environmental Impact Study was issued by the NT Environmental Protection Authority in January 2017. This includes several recommendations that the proponents and contractors have agreed to follow.
History has shown us how mining companies, construction companies and FIFO contractors carry out environmental recommendations – especially when our government ‘leaders’ have given the go-ahead before public consultation has even started.
The Northern Territory is covered by mining leases or exploration permits. While there are Reservations against Mining in most town centres and in one national park, the rest of the NT is subject to invasive mining applications that leave land holders with very few rights to prevent permit holders from drilling for exploration or full-blown mining leases.
RRRG early last year objected to a mining lease proposed for the Darwin River Dam catchment area and the NT government rejected the mining lease proposal recently as against public interest. Sometimes we win!!
Unlike in other jurisdictions, the NT does not have an integrated planning legislation that allows us to object openly and fairly to all forms of development.
The new NT government must put in place a practical integrated planning system to enable community members to object to mining applications similarly to planning applications. While the appeals process for planning objections is limited for rural residents, the mining objection process is almost non-existent.
Time for a change in government policy and direction that allows open, transparent and accountable public consultation and participation in protecting our precious natural environment from large-scale mining degradation and pollution.