To all SIMO members and friends
Submission Guidelines to Straddie Vision
The future of North Stradbroke Island is at a critical stage. The Premier announced 80 per cent of the island is to be made national park, and mining is to be phased out by 2027. Another 17 years of mining would see the last big tracts of ancient sand dunes destroyed, country earmarked for national park.
Seems crazy to recognise an area for its national park values but then let the bulldozers in first.
It’s important to send a message ASAP to government. Submissions of any length can be sent to straddie.vision, cc the Premier, premier and forward a copy to SIMO if possible – Jackie Cooper ume
More information and maps at www.qld.gov and see attachments.
You can send more than one submission, so if there are points you have missed, send them in. If you are in a rush, just include the first 6 points below in bold.
If you have more time, have a look at the rest of this email, which gives more suggestions and background. See also the attached letter from Professor Carla Catterall about rehabilitation outcomes and CRL’s notice to the ASX regarding halving the workforce. Also add other concerns or ideas you have: it’s up to us to help shape our future.
Key points you might like to use in your submission:
- Strongly support 80 per cent national park for North Stradbroke Island, and call for much more of the island to be gazetted in this term of government, especially pristine country. 80 per cent is needed because so much of the pristine country is scattered through mined country, and the island is relatively small.
- Don’t mine our future national park: no more mining in pristine areas. County rehabilitated after mining is a very poor substitute for the original. All remaining old growth forest and original landscape (including areas of limited disturbance) should be protected now. After 60 years of mining, every last scrap of original landscape is precious.
- Request the application of existing legislation, including provisions of the Mineral Resources Act 1989, to end mining in the shortest possible time. The island needs protection now, not in 17 years time.
(i) Do not renew any expired or soon-to-expire mining lease, especially the Enterprise leases (including ML1117) and two Vance leases (ML1124, 7064). The massive pit of Enterprise moving through the landscape is hugely destructive.
(ii) Cancel the Vance lease ML1108 on the basis of serious breaches of law and mining lease conditions. The Supreme Court has found that Unimin has unlawfully taken and sold non-mineral sand from Vance for a decade. This sand should have been used to help reduce the holes left after the legal silica mining..
(iii) Ensure rehabilitation obligations are met, not by renewing mining leases but by an alternative tenure arrangement. If a mining lease is renewed to allow rehabilitation, there is always a risk that a future government could amend legislation to re-enliven mining or quarrying.
4. Support joint management of the national park with the traditional owners.
5. Request that mine workers and their families receive due consideration. Mineral resources have been running out. Yarraman is due to finish in 2013, and CRL announced to the stock exchange in 2009 that the workforce would halve (a loss of about 100 jobs). For the remaining employees there will be many jobs in decommissioning of plant and rehabilitation. Encourage government to facilitate the creation of alternative job opportunities.
6. Call for the national park to be world class, based on ecological principles. The island’s sensitive ecosystems, rich diversity of plants and animals, scenic and cultural sites should be front and centre of decision-making right now. This includes the island’s koalas. Adequate pristine county is needed for ecosystem health, and is what tourists will want to experience.
7. Request that the pristine country of Blue Lake catchment and Swallow Lagoon be included in national park immediately. Recognise that ‘the Pines’ area includes an important swamp, native vegetation is recovering well and the area forms prt of the catchment of Brown Lake. Therefore this area requires sensitive management.
8. On the government’s map, the red nature-based tourism area at Flinders is at odds with the environment: it’s koala territory, swampy, home to rare orchids, low-lying and subject to sea level rise.
9. Support genuine 4WD access within the park, but do not support opening up areas of the island for recreational, destructive 4WD activity. Stradbroke’s fragile ecosystems quickly erode when churned up by vehicles. The state should not be supporting “just for fun” activities that are ecologically so damaging. Special consideration is needed for beach wildlife, turtle nesting, migratory birds, shorebirds and invertebrate fauna that underpin beach ecology.
On June 20, the Premier announced a new vision for North Stradbroke Island. Additional information has followed: see New Vision for North Stradbroke Island at www.qld.gov.
Key points of the vision are:
80 per cent of NSI to be national park by 2027.
56 per cent to be declared national park within 18 months, the remainder to be successively phased in between 2011-2027.
Sand mining to be phased out by 2027 when the last lease expires.
Expired mining leases are not to be renewed, and no new leases to be granted.
The government will legislate to create certainty for the closure date of all mines and will ensure rehabilitation obligations are met.
Comment on national park
Given that so much of the island has been mined or impacted on by mining, a very large percentage of the island needs to be under national park protection. This is essential for ecosystem health and to ensure the best possible outcomes for the land in recovery from mining. The rehabilitated land is dependent on the surrounding natural bush for “supply” of species and cushioning from stressors such as invasive species. Refer to attached letter by Professor Carla Catterall. The island is relatively small, so maintaining connectivity throughout its length and breadth is crucial. The government was right to set aside 80 per cent national park.
But there are some catches!
The first 56 per cent will consist of 18 Mile Swamp and some lagoons and wetlands in the south of the island (that are protected by Ramsar anyway). Apart from a couple of very small parcels in the north, the rest is primarily land already mined or impacted on by mining (the Gordon, Ibis and Bayside mine areas). See maps at www.qld.gov.
This land is important for national park and includes some very valuable wetlands and koala habitat, but it’s hard to understand why so much country in the north of the island – some not even covered by mining lease – is not being included in national park in this term of government. That’s why it’s important to encourage the government to gazette as much land as possible now.
Matters of concern relating to mining
On the day of the announcement, everyone got the impression that all the expired leases would not be renewed. But then it emerged that the massive Enterprise mine, the big pit that features in so many press photos, may be renewed. This mine is on a lease that expired in 2007, so mining has already been occurring here on borrowed time. This mine is still clearing old growth forest and digging very deep. It’s true that parts of the Enterprise leases were dry mined in the 1960s, but that was shallow mining: nothing like the scale and depth of current operations. Native bush has recolonised the dry-mined areas reasonably well, particularly as it’s surrounded by pristine country. But all that landscape would be homogenised if the expired Enterprise leases were to be renewed.
Yarraman mine lease expires in 2027 but the minerals are running out and the mine is due to close in about 2013. CRL announced in 2009 that half the workforce (about 100 jobs) would go when Yarraman closed. Yarraman is still clearing old growth forest and has a big pit, like Enterprise.
At the silica glass mine, two of the leases have expired and the other lease – ML1108 – runs to 2025. This is ancient dune country, very scenic, home to threatened frogs, endangered heathlands and part of the rooftop of the island. There are masses of pink boronias in spring. It’s from this site that Unimin had been unlawfully taking and selling sand to the landscape and building industries. This mine is also clearing pristine old growth vegetation.
So while the announcement of 80 per cent national park is very welcome, the reality is the silica glass mine is set to run another 15 years; and if the government renews Enterprise, then island mining will be allowed to run its course. Effectively the government will not have curtailed mining at all.
So far, ecological principles and the island’s biodiversity do not appear to be at the forefront of planning decisions. It’s critical this is brought into play ASAP. We should urge the government to commission a rapid assessment ecological report to gather together all the information like koala habitat mapping, sites of rare and endangered species, the most pristine wetlands, vegetation types and so forth. Much of this information exists; it just needs to be pulled together so that planning can make use of it.
Many islanders are naturally concerned about jobs, but mining always was going to end. The heavy minerals are definitely running out. Silica mineral may have lasted longer. But if we recycled glass better, we wouldn’t need to keep destroying pristine country on Stradbroke. The thing is, it’s cheaper to dig sand out of Stradbroke than it is to use recycled glass. Something is wrong there.
Isn’t it better to plan for the future now and save what’s left of the last big tracts of pristine country?
SIMO is pushing to obtain true and accurate information about our island economy and how we can best make the transition to a sustainable future.
Thank you for reading this, and thank you for making your submission.