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|Keep Camberwell Common in public hands and investigate Ashton April 16, 2010|
Greens MP and mining spokesperson Lee Rhiannon has called on the Minister for Lands Tony Kelly to reverse his decision to hand the Camberwell Common over to coal company Ashton Coal. The Greens are also seeking a full investigation into Ashton’s operations that have resulted in cracking of the common, with prosecution if appropriate (“Villagers fuming after their common is handed to mine”, SMH, page 1),
“This unholy deal between Ashton Coal and the government, transferring the Camberwell Common from the people to the company, is designed to cover up the extensive damage caused to the natural environment by mining operations,” Ms Rhiannon said.
“Camberwell village has not only lost its common but its heart. Ashton Coal now has a further parcel of land it can use to expand its operations.
“I questioned the NSW Planning Minister in March about the cracking and subsidence damage.
“It appears Departments of Industry and Planning inspected the cracking in November 2010, but the government is yet to take action against Ashton.
“The Planning Department should not rely on Ashton’s investigations of the subsidence. It should be conducting its own detailed review and using all its powers to ensure this does not happen again.
“This situation highlights how mining companies in the Upper Hunter get away with blue murder, with the government acting as their accomplice. This Common was given to the people by the governor in the 1890s, but the government has now snatched it from them to avoid controversy.
“The devastation caused by mining in Camberwell exposes the government’s prioritising of mining over Hunter residents. It is a calculated act of damage control by the government, at the expense of this community.
“What we need is a culture change whereby people and the natural environment and not mining companies and their corporate interests drive decision making in this state,” Ms Rhiannon said.
Lee’s questions to the Planning Minister about Camberwell Common damage: http://tiny.cc/u24lv Visit Lee’s mining campaign site at http://nonewcoal.greens.org.au/