Coal protesters await Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban joining their fight

Property owners fighting coal seam gas mining exploration around precious aquifers of the Southern Highlands have been hoping – to no avail so far – that local rural estate owners Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban will soon join their battle.

Kidman and Urban own the historic Bunya Hill homestead at Sutton Forest (pictured), which is now in the heart of prime exploration country. Hume Coal, which headlines the syndicate made up of Korean Steelmaker POSCO and junior partner Cockatoo Coal, has recently completed aerial survey work in the highlands to plan its exploration activities. The aerial gradiometry, magnetics and digital terrain model survey will help Hume Coal focus its future exploration drilling activities on key areas of its extensive lease.

The industry is on Kidman and Urban’s doorstep, with a nearby 425-hectare Sutton Forest farm sold to the coal company.

"We have a protest group and have delivered plenty of flyers and information to landowners but we've never heard a word from Nicole or Keith," a local source told the Sydney press recently.

"We don't even know if they're aware how big the issue is, but next time they're here they'll see the exploration plant over their fence."

Alan Lindsay and Gordon Windeyer of the Southern Highlands Coal Action Group appeared before the Senate Enquiry into Coal Seam Gas in Canberra in September.

“We believe that the Southern Highlands should be ‘ring fenced’ from these types of developments due to the unique character of the area, its dependence on groundwater resources and its location in the heart of the Sydney Water Catchment Area.

“Mining is also incompatible with the development planned by local government and desired by the community,” they say.

The Southern Highlands is set 100 to 135 kilometres south of Sydney, a vital part of the Sydney Water Catchment.

The highlands are known for its many historic hamlets, towns and villages, physical beauty and the relatively untouched nature of its environment.

The area has a flourishing tourism industry.

The highlands sits in an area denoted the Southern Coalfields.

Coal seams run under almost the entire area in close proximity to extensive above- and below-ground water systems.

For the first half of the 20th century, mining played a key role in the area’s economy.

Apart from Boral’s small coal mining operation near Berrima, no extensive mining operations now exist in the highlands.

“However, given the extraordinary rise in coal prices and the demand for natural gas as an alternative to coal for power generation, the area is now under threat from both coal mining and coal seam gas exploitation,” SHCAG says.


Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.


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