Whilst Brisbane's Courier Mail rightly recently exposed the ecological vandalism of Consolidated Rutile on North Stradbroke Island, it and the rest of the Queensland newsmedia, have largely ignored a proposed extension of sand and gravel mining on the nearby mainland, which may prove to be even more harmful for the Moreton Bay region.
The compelling case against the expansion of Neilsen's sand and gravel mine
In the Bald Hills region immediately to the North of Brisbane, in the Greater Moreton Shire, the health and peace of 600 students of Bald Hills Primary School, one of the first 10 to be established in Queensland, is threatened by the proposed extension of an existing sand and gravel mine across the Pine River into the adjoining flood plains as close as 150 metres metres from the school oval.
As well as the health of school students, the extension of the sand mine, owned by Neilsen's mining company, threatens the whole surrounding flood plain and even Moreton Bay. A six minute YouTube broadcast "Bald Hills Flats under threat" published on 9 August has put the compelling and overwhelming case against the expansion of sand mining. Much of the following is paraphrased from that excellent video.
Bald Hills flats, which is bordered by the Pine River, contains a delicate diverse eco-system that serves as a large cartchment area which feeds into Moreton Bay.
Studies in the US show that the ecological costs of sand and gravel mining include:
- increased stream acidity;
- soil nutrient depletion; and
- loss of bio-diversity, including in the Bald Hills region aquatic birds, rare fish and koalas.
Health effects caused by silicate, and other forms of dust, include:
- respiratory problems;
- aggravation of asthma; and
- increased risk of lung cancer.
Pine River has flooded many times in the last 20 years. During a recent flood earlier this year, everything in the flood plain was washed out into Moreton Bay -- toxic wastes, algae from stagnant swamps caused by sand mining and sludge.
Such natural events are well beyond what Nielsen's are capable of preventing or constraining in any way.
Already the Pine River is under great stress from numerous inappropriate developments upstream. A number of public works have been destroyed or damaged because of the inability of planners to predict what course the water of the Pine River will follow.
The narrator of "Bald Hills Flats under threat" makes the emphatic point:
"The Bald Hills Community is not seeking a few token conditions which will be applied upon application approval. We do not want this application approved at all. Not now. Not ever.
"Surely we have learnt from past mistakes that you simply just can't go ahead and decimate a valley within the Brisbane Metropolitan area because of a need for resources. The problems outlined here are not problems that can simply be addressed. The problems here are problems that simply can't be overcome."
Why do our governments seek population growth if it necessitates ecological destruction?
This point confronts the nub of the conflict at the heart of the fight of the Bald Hills Community.
The Pine Rivers Press of 20 August reported that Neilsen's CEO Mario Panuccio said the company had exhausted its supplies at its Brendale site. Panuccio continued:
"To ensure the secure supply of sand and gravel to support the growing community's infrastructure needs, we need to put in place a plan to source sand and gravel from our eastern landholdings."
So, in order to provide for a "growing community's infrastructure needs" a "traditional, historic, well-loved, green pasture within Brisbane turned into a dusty, ugly open-cut mine." as the narrator points out.
The threatened destruction of the Bald Hills flats is only one of almost countless costs the Australian community is being made to bear in order to pay for population growth needlessly imposed by Federal, state and local governments.
This population growth is utimately driven by the Federal Government's record high immigration program for apparently no better purpose than to line the pockets of the property developers and land speculators who so generously contribute to the coffers of the governing political parties. Just some of ecological costs include the threartened damming of the Mary Valley containing the endangered lung fish, the Mary Valley cod and the Mary Valley turtle, the damming of Wyaralong said to be necessary to provide the necessary additional water, the threatened total extinction of the Koala, not only in the Bald Hills region, but throughout the rest of South East
Queensland, the destruction of Minnippi Parklands containing rare sugar gliders. Social costs include the destruction of rural communities, ever increasing trafic congestion, escalating housing costs and homelessness, escalating council rates and charges for electricity, water, road use and other government services.
Surely, then, it is time that we questioned altogther the need for population growth? Surely, instead of causing incessant population growth, our governments at the Federal, state and local level, should instead, be working out exactly what numbeers of humans South East Queensland and the rest of this country can support and accordingly plan to stabilise our population at those levels?
How our governments no longer serve the interests of local communities they claim to represent
A number of courageous people from the Bald Hills are determined to stand up for their community and environment.
They are led by parents of children attending the Bald Hills Primary School. However, they face formidable barriers in the form of the Moreton Bay Regional Council and the Queensland State Labor government. The Moreton Bay Regional council is the product of the dictatorial amalgamations imposed in 2007 by then Premier Peter Beattie and then Local Government Minister Andrew Fraser at the behest of the Property Council of Australia. Whilst in some councils this backfired badly on Beattie and the Property Council, when popular anti-development mayors won in Cairns, the Sunshine Coast and Redlands Shire, the Moreton Bay Regional Council appears to be dominated by councillors unresponsive to the needs of constituents such as those in the Bald Hills region.
Further, the Queensland state Government is doing its best thwart the wishes of the Bald Hills community. According to a Bald Hills community activist, teachers from the Bald Hills Primary School were threatened with the sack if they were to participate in any community protests against sand mining.
However, the Bald Hills community are resolved to fight and need your support. If they succeed in saving their valley, then so can you next time the preservation of your lifestyle and your environment stands in the way of corporate profits.
See also: "Bald Hills Flats under threat", an excellent six minute YouTube broadcast published on 9 Aug 09 (also embedded in this article), "Residents launch campaign to fight quarry plan" by Joel Gould and Miranda Forster in the Pine Rivers Press of 20 Aug 09, "Parents blast plan to mine sand and gravel near school" by Tanya Chilcott in the Courier Mail of 20 Aug 09 (almost identical copy to be found here), "North Stradbroke Island eaten away by sand mininig" by Greg Stolz in the Courier Mail of 15 Aug , "North Stradbroke Island mine rort alleged" by Greg Stolz in the Courier Mail of 20 Aug 09.
Recent articles describing other threats to biodiversity in South East Queensland: "Rescuers fear for koalas" by Alyce Valentine in the Pine Rivers Press of 27 Aug 09, "Traffic noise makes it hard for frogs to find a mate" by Brian Williams in the Courier Mail of 27 Aug , "Rezoning anger at Bald Hills" by Miranda Forster in the Pine Rivers Press of 13 May 10, Bald Hills Against Mining FaceBook page.
What you can do
1. Contact the Mayor of the Moreton Bay Regional Council and the other 12 Councillors and let them know of your opposition to the expansion of sand and gravel mining. Please send us copies of any correspondences to and from these councillors so that we can publish them.
|Note: Add '@moretonbay.qld.gov.au' (omit quotes) to all e-mail addresses.|
|Mayor||Allan Sutherland||(07) 5433 295, 0407 629 002||mayor||Moreton Bay Region|
|1||Gary Parsons||(07) 5433 2958, 0407 629 002||gary.parsons||Banksia Beach, Bellara, Bongaree, Donnybrook, Godwin Beach, Meldale, Ningi, Sandstone Point, Toorbul,Welsby, White Patch, Woorim and parts of Caboolture and Elimbah.|
|2||Chris Whiting||(07) 5433 2959, 0409 831 236||chris.whiting||Beachmere, Burpengary, parts of Caboolture East, Deception Bay and parts of Morayfield.|
|3||Greg Chippendale||(07) 5433 2960, 0418 754 727||greg.chippendale||Caboolture, Caboolture South, Morayfield, parts of Bellmere and Moodlu|
|4||Julie Greer||(07) 3283 0453, 0419 801 853||julie.greer||North Lakes, Mango Hill, Griffin, Dakabin, parts of Kallangur, Deception Bay, Burpengary and Narangba.|
|5||James Houghton||(07) 3283 0455, 0419 801 853||Division5||Redcliffe (north), Scarborough, Newport, Kippa-Ring (north) and Rothwell.|
|6||Rae Frawley||(07) 3283 0375, 0438 813 403||rae.frawley||Clontarf, Woody Point, Margate, Redcliffe (south) and Kippa-Ring (south)|
|7||David Dwyer||(07) 3480 6625, 0418 878 514||david.dwyer||Petrie, Kallangur, Murrumba Downs and Kurwongbah.|
|8||Mick Gillam||(07) 3480 6777, 0408 878 517||mick.gillam||Strathpine (east), Bray Park, Lawnton, Joyner, Cashmere (north) and Warner (north)|
|9||Mike Charlton||(07) 3480 6869, 0417 757 751||mike.charlton||Albany Creek, Brendale, Eatons Hill, Strathpine (west) and Warner (south)|
|10||Brian Battersby||(07) 3480 6383||brian.battersby||"The Hills District" (Arana Hills, Everton Hills, Ferny Hills), Bunya and southwest Albany Creek.|
|11||Bob Millar||(07) 3480 6455, 0409 890 203||bob.millar||Armstrong Creek, Camp Mountain, Cedar Creek, Clear Mountain, Closeburn, Dayboro, Draper, Highvale, Jollys Lookout, King Scrub, Kobble Creek, Laceys Creek, Mount Glorious, Mount Nebo, Mount Pleasant, Mount Samson, Ocean View, Rush Creek, Samford, Samford Valley, Samsonvale, Whiteside, Wights Mountain, Yugar and parts of Burpengary, Cashmere, Kurwongbah, Moorina and Narangba.|
|12||Adrian Raedel||(07) 5433 2961, 0488 186 487||adrian.raedel||parts of Bellmere, Bellthorpe, Booroobin, Bracalba, parts of Burpengary, Campbells Pocket, parts of Caboolture, Cedarton, Commissioner's Flat, D'Aguilar, Delaneys Creek, Elimbah, Moodlu, Mount Delaney, Mount Mee, parts of Morayfield, Moorina, Neurum, Rocksberg, Stanmore, Stony Creek, Upper Caboolture, Wamuran Basin, Wamuran and Woodford.|
2. Contact you local member (MLA) of the Queensland Legislative Assembly (Parliament) and demand that the state Parliament act to save Moreton Bay as well as Bald Hills flats. Contact details of Queensland MLA's can be found here on the State Parliament web site.
3. Contact Geoffrey Wilson the Queensland State Minister for Education (ph 07 3237 1000, education[AT]ministerial.qld.gov.au) and ask that teachers be given categorical assurances that any participation by Bald Hills State School teachers in protest actions in support of their community and their environment will not result in their sacking or any other form of victimisation.
4. Attend protest actions against the expansion of sand and gravel mining on the Bald Hills flats. Also attend other protest actions in support of the environment such as the protest to Save the Koala, which is also threatened by the extension of the sand mine.
Details of the Save the Koala protest are:
Time/Date:11AM sign-in for a 12PM start, Friday, 25 Septemper
Place: Brisbane Square (in front of Treasury Casino)
Contact: saveourkoalas[AT]gmail.com, www.koalarescue.org.au