THE MESSAGE was loud and clear – they do not want a coalmine near their backyards.
About 70 Aldershot residents voiced their objections at a community meeting this week to Northern Energy’s plan to build a coking coalmine in the area.
The mine is expected to produce more than five million tonnes of coking coal and create about 100 direct jobs over the next decade if Northern Energy is successful in its lease applications to the Department of Mines and Energy.
Nearby residents, however, are concerned about the health problems that could result from living so close to a mine.
“Dust will settle in our water tanks and chemicals from explosives will drift into the air and spread,” the protest group’s vice-president, Brian Linforth, said.
“Then there’s the increased traffic and noise levels – this is a lovely quiet place almost like a retirement village and people are not in a position to just move away.
“Our property values are already plummeting.
“And it’s not just us at Aldershot – the minable pit will be just 3km from us and what many people don’t understand is that eventually it’ll be 7km from Maryborough Hospital, 3.5km from Torbanlea and 3km from Susan River Homestead.”
Maryborough MP Chris Foley, veteran environmental campaigner Drew Hutton and Fraser Coast councillors Les MucKan and David Dalgleish also attended the meeting.
Mr Linforth said Mr Foley confirmed that Northern Energy’s lease application had not yet been approved and that he was willing to take a petition to parliament if asked.
“I have no preferred position on the mine,” Mr Foley told the Chronicle.
“On the surface it’s a good thing if it creates jobs and wealth but not if the health of residents is at risk.
“One thing that was very clear at the meeting was these people want to voice their disapproval on the matter and there’s absolutely not doubt they do not want it at all.”
Mr Foley said the mine should only go ahead if it met all the environmental criteria.
Mr Linforth said the group would prepare a list of questions and concerns for Mr Foley to present in parliament in coming weeks.
They also hoped to gain the support of tourist operators and would ask the council to undertake a health assessment of the Aldershot area.
A website and Facebook page has been developed and will be online when the group’s name is registered.
The next meeting will be at the Aldershot Community Hall on May 19 at 6.30pm.
Last month, Northern Energy hosted a community information session at Maryborough City Hall.
The session covered a range of topics including noise pollution, environment and the knock-on effect for Maryborough’s economy, believed to be about $20m a year.