Olkola reclaim traditional Cape York land after three-decade struggle, Guardian, Joshua Robertson, 10 Dec 14 More than 6,300 square kilometres of former cattle grazing land in Queensland is formally handed back to Indigenous owners, spelling the end of uranium exploration in the area and the start of a quest to develop tourism opportunities One of the largest returns of land to traditional owners in Queensland’s history has killed off the prospect of uranium mining in a key part of Cape York.
The Olkola, who reclaimed more than 6,300 square kilometres of former cattle grazing land in a formal ceremony on Wednesday, are instead seeking business opportunities in adventure tourism.
Just over 1000 sq km of Olkola land is licensed for uranium exploration by French corporation Areva, which has spoken of north Queensland’s potential to match Kazakhstan as a source for nuclear fuel.
But the deal negotiated by the Olkola has forced Areva to give up its exploration licences in areas given over to a national park, and the clan has no intention of allowing mining elsewhere.
The traditional owners are instead in talks with a global adventure travel agency about a possible joint venture.
It comes just months after the Newman government began to accept uranium mining applications across the state with a view to ending a 25-year ban.
The Australian Conservation Foundation has praised the Olkola people’s move, along with their decision to give over almost a third of their land to a protected national park.
For Mike Ross, the chairman of the Olkola Aboriginal Corporation, the joy of reclaiming country after nearly 30 years of negotiations was tempered by the need to find viable ways for his people to make a living………http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/dec/10/olkola-reclaim-traditional-cape-york-land-after-three-decade-struggle
Anti-CSG groups says use of radioactive materials should be disclosed, The Age November 24, 2014 Peter Hannam Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald Radioactive material is being used at some coal seam gas drilling sites in NSW and Queensland, raising concerns about potential health and environmental impacts.
A radiation management licence issued to US-based drilling company Halliburton shows it is permitted to use caesium-137, a radioactive isotope, for drilling by AGL at Gloucester, in the northern Hunter Valley and for Santos in the Pilliga forests near Narrabri.
Drillers deploy devices containing CS-137 to measure the composition of gas and water deep underground, with the isotope emitting gamma rays to operate like a miniature X-ray. Produced in nuclear reactors, the material is potentially deadly and among the main radiation concerns at failed power stations at Chernobyl and Fukushima…………
Environmental groups say the use of the radioactive material is not disclosed in the CSG projects’ Review of Environment Factors (REF) and Environmental Impact Statements, nor does it appear by name in Materials Safety Data Sheets.
An anti-coal seam gas campaigner at Gloucester, Jennifer Schoelpple, said AGL had played up the use of much more benign chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing – fracking – but had downplayed the role of caesium.
“No matter how thoroughly you search ‘under your kitchen sink’ or how scrupulously you check the ingredients of your condiments and ‘household products’, you are highly unlikely to lay your hands on any CS-137 in your family home,” Ms Schoelpple said.
“If they are so transparent, why don’t they document the most dangerous thing they use?”
Vicki Perrin, from Lock the Gate in Queensland, said farmers allowing CSG drilling on their land and the neighbouring communities should be made aware of the risks: “Farmers need to know there is a radioactive source on their site.”………http://www.theage.com.au/environment/anticsg-groups-says-use-of-radioactive-materials-should-be-disclosed-20141123-11s5vp.html
Scientists working together with indigenous land-managers have reduced Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by half a million tonnes. IMPROVING FIRE MANAGEMENT in the tropical savannah of northern Australia has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 500,000 tonnes over the past year.
By reintroducing traditional fire knowledge and practices, local land managers have benefited through the sale of carbon credits, as well as helping the environment.
“Methane and nitrous oxide emissions from savannah burning represent about three per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions,” said the CSIRO’s Dr Garry Cook at the 2014 annual conference of the Ecological Society of Australia in Alice Springs in September.
“Since European settlement, fires in the north have increased in size and severity. This has threatened biodiversity as well as increased greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
Australia’s tropical savannah landscape is enormous — it covers an area of some 1.9 million square kilometres, or about one quarter of the entire continent. The landscape is mainly forests and woodlands consisting of wide fields of grass with scattered eucalypt trees.
The savannah stretches from Rockhampton on the Queensland coast up to the tip of Cape York and across to the Kimberley region of Western Australia on the Indian Ocean.
Frequent fires are a characteristic of the landscape, and the vast majority are deliberately lit without any authorisation. Tens of thousands of square kilometres burn every year during the northern dry season.
Many local Aboriginal communities have retained their traditional fire knowledge, and these communities hold deep aspirations to fulfil long-held cultural obligations regarding country. Dr Cook said the Commonwealth’s Carbon Farming Initiative provided the impetus to restore traditional fire management practices on aboriginal homelands, combining modern environmental and fire science with traditional mosaic burning practices.
“In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the methodology, land managers need to burn early in the dry season to protect the landscape from the more intense fires that would otherwise occur later in the dry season,” he said.
“Early dry-season fires are generally low in intensity; they trickle through the landscape and burn only some of the fuel, creating a network of burnt firebreaks. These stop the late dry-season fires sweeping through large areas and releasing large amounts of methane and nitrous oxide.
“Most savannahs burn on average once in every two to four years, in the late dry season, and it’s these fires that produce between three and four per cent of Australia’s accountable greenhouse emissions. The methodology helps reduce these emissions by using low-intensity, patchy early dry-season fires to reduce the overall fire frequency and proportion of late dry-season fires, which tend to be much larger and more intense,” Dr Cook said.
The savannah burning methodology for reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions was developed by a team from CSIRO, the Charles Darwin University’s Centre for Bushfire Research, the Northern Australia Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance, and Aboriginal landowners and rangers in northern Australia.
Dr Cook said, “It’s lovely to see science being applied to improve land management in that part of the world: we’re talking very remote country, very limited resources for land management, and very sparse populations. It’s had a great impact.”
Brisbane G20: Airport vetoes #onmyagenda climate change billboard, Brisbane Times November 3, 2014 Tony Moore brisbanetimes.com.au senior reporter Brisbane Airport Corporation has vetoed a “political” billboard asking for climate change to be added to this month’s G20 conference.
The billboard – backed by nine national and international conservation groups – was planned for Brisbane International Airport.
A second billboard is being unveiled in Peel Street at South Brisbane on Monday.
The groups wanted world leaders and their delegates to see the billboard as they arrived in Brisbane. The #onmyagenda campaign encourages people to tweet G20 leaders asking them to include climate change as a stand-alone item on the G20 agenda.
Climate change issues have been on the agendas at eight previous eight G20 summits.
It is not on the agenda in Brisbane.
The decision comes as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Sunday released its most recent report on the impact of climate change.
The report found that the world must stop almost all greenhouse gas emissions through a phased elimination of fossil fuels by 2100 if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged companies to disinvest from fossil fuel-based industries.
In broad terms, the UN IPCC report finds there are “multiple pathways” available to keep global warming below two degrees.
All of these pathways require “substantial” cuts to greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades, and “near zero” emissions by the end of the century, the report’s authors concluded.
BAC told Fairfax Media the billboards were rejected last Wednesday because they were deemed to be “political”.http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/brisbane-g20/brisbane-g20-airport-vetoes-onmyagenda-climate-change-billboard-20141103-11fzdm.html#ixzz3I9Xt6bP9
Commandos and Black Hawk helicopters stage operations in Brisbane CBD as G20 security ramps up http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-03/g20-security-ramps-up/5861514
Around 50 personnel dressed like commandos, armed with semi automatic rifles and wearing body armour staged the training exercise on Sunday.
Courier Mail photographer Marc Robertson stumbled on the operation, and said there were four helicopters “only a few feet from the buildings”.
“I counted about 50 blokes wearing paramilitary uniforms, combat pants, and wearing body armour carrying full automatic weapons,” he said.
“They are not wearing any insignia at all… there was a lot of action in amongst the buildings.
There was no official information about the operation, but Queensland police confirmed they had been assisting with traffic control for a G20 training exercise in the CBD.
Meanwhile, the RAAF said the public would notice increased activity in the skies over south-east Queensland in the lead-up to the summit.
It said fighter jets, Black Hawk helicopters and surveillance planes would increase patrols, and conduct training exercises. Commander of ADF support to the G20 Major General Stuart Smith said the training period would allow the military to sharpen their response skills.
G20 security: Soldiers man checkpoints in inner-Brisbane ahead of summit ABC News 4 Nov 14 By John Taylor Soldiers and police have begun stopping and searching vehicles going into G20 restricted zones in inner-Brisbane.
Checkpoints have been set up at Milton and Spring Hill to search for explosives and weapons, manned by military personnel who have served in war zones.
Major General Stuart Smith said the soldiers and police would be involved in the searches over the next fortnight, using high-tech latest equipment.
“You’ve got soldiers here that have got experience in Afghanistan doing high-profile search techniques and they’ve done specific rehearsals to build them up in cooperation with the police over the last few months,” he said………
More than 900 soldiers will be helping with security during G20 and have spent months training for every eventuality.
Barricades to go up as ‘countries take over hotels’
Barricades and fencing will begin appearing around Brisbane city from next week, G20 Assistant Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said………
At the weekend, two people were served with notices prohibiting them from the G20……..
On Sunday night dozens of soldiers with machine guns and body armour took part in an exercise in the CBD…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-03/soldiers-to-man-g20-checkpoints-in-brisbane-for-searches/5863054
It was recently revealed that the French nuclear corporation Areva has been exploring for uranium in the Carpentaria basin in south west Cape York and the north east of the Gulf country for uranium deposits. Areva state that Australia possesses one of the largest uranium reserves in the world and that tens of thousands of hectares are of exploration interest.
Areva already have a track record in Australia. They are the same company that Kakadu Traditional Owner Jeffrey Lee refused to allow to mine on his ancestral lands. As the senior Traditional Owner of the Djok clan and senior custodian of Koongarra where uranium was found, Lee decided to never allow mining in the culturally and ecologically sensitive area.
Despite this opposition, Jeffrey Lee endured years of pressure to allow mining in the former Koongarra Project Area, long excluded from the surrounding Kakadu National Park and World Heritage area.
Turning his back on personal wealth, Lee chose to prioritise country and culture over cash stating; “I could have been a rich man. Billions of dollars… You can offer me anything but my land is cultural land.”
Only last year did the threat of uranium mining on Jeffrey’s country get laid to rest with the area finally and formally added to Kakadu. With the right to veto mining afforded to Traditional Owners in the Northern Territory under the Land Rights (NT) Act 1976, Mr Lee had the legal power to say no. Fortunately for all Australian’s – now and in the future – he exercised this power.
Unfortunately, this opportunity is not afforded to Traditional Owners under Queensland’s Aboriginal Land Act 1992. On Cape York Peninsula Areva has largely flown under the radar, and have been exploring in the Mitchell, Coleman and Gilbert river basins and areas further south and south west. …….
Clearly, the health of the Mitchell River and its tributaries affects the health of the people who rely on its waters for food, culture and lifestyle. As a healthy functioning ecosystem, the Mitchell River floodplain region is part of the real northern food bowl.
When Campbell Newman went to the 2012 state election with a ‘crystal clear’ commitment not to overturn the ban on uranium mining, Areva were already were warming up their drill rigs. Uranium mining is a dirty game and we’ve already seen severe contamination from leaks at Rio Tinto’s Ranger mine in the Northern Territory. Given the amount of wet season flooding on the Mitchell River, there is no doubt of direct risk to the Cape’s rivers from any future uranium operation.
What’s more, it seems as though the public’s right to contest and object to mining proposals is being eroded. Regardless of whether you live next door, downstream or elsewhere, your rights to contest mining proposals was diminished with the passing of the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014 in Queensland’s parliament recently. When enacted this heavy handed law will take away our rights to contest around 90% of mining projects.
Our healthy rivers and waterways are more than just unallocated commodities for the resource sector to consume and then dispose of. Our quality of life, through culture and lifestyle, depend on the life-giving water of the regions spectacular and precious river systems.
In the Mitchel River basin we are already seeing in-stream mining, a massive increase in exploration and increased sediment loads in aquatic environments. Introducing the risk of uranium contamination into the Mitchell and other rivers would be a disaster for people and country. It makes no sense to threaten the resource that sustains life with the ill-conceived and fast-tracked digging of a mineral that threatens life. http://www.acfonline.org.au/news-media/acf-opinion/uranium-new-threat-cape-york%E2%80%99s-rivers
“Our current Government is putting out a Green Paper called ‘The New Frontier’which includes Western Australia, Northern Territory and Northern Queensland, and they’re talking about the economic viability of the new frontier,” Lee said.
“What that translates to, is mining, taking of land, and when you start removing people from their land, then you can’t close the gap because you’re once again denying people their human rights.”
Aunty Pat, said communities need home bases, where a sense of belonging can be achieved, and children educated in the old ways to provide a path to the future where the loss their ancestor’s suffered can be replaced with traditional culture.
“We need to have a place where we can deal with a holistic approach of taking a family on a property and do the healing process,” Aunty Pat said.
“It will not take three months or six months, it could take a whole year and on this property we should have trained qualified people who will deal with the children and have some form of a mini school for the children to learn how to read and write the old way.”
Ms Vanessa Lee, said it’s crucial for our government and our country to try to understand how the land is important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
“I don’t think people understand the whole importance of land to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it’s not just land rights, it’s a sense of spirituality,” Lee said.
“Everything comes from the earth and goes back to the earth, and that’s where you’ve got the Dreaming happening.”
Mr James said there’s evidence that what these organizations are doing out there is helping and making a difference, but they need continual support……..http://thestringer.com.au/forgotten-children-of-the-promised-land-the-fight-to-save-rural-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-communities-8944#.VE6TiiLF8nk
North Coast solar industry worried by changes to Renewable Energy Target ABC News 23 Oct 2014, The North Coast solar industry says it will be impacted by changes to the Federal Government’s changes to the renewable energy target (RET).
The target is currently set at 41,000 kilowatts of renewable energy by 2020, but the Government wants to reduce that to 26,000 to reflect falling demand for power.
The changes would only impact large-scale RET projects directly, with the small-scale scheme excluded………
Geoff Tosio from Bellingen Solar Depot said the even with the small-scale target excluded, his business will still suffer if the target is lowered.
“In regards to the renewable energy target being chopped down to a “real” 20 percent, if that’s going to happen, then how is that going to happen?” he asked.
“To say that’s not going to affect household solar is quite disingenuous.”
Mr Tosio said a particular concern is that large-scale contracts will be impacted.
“We would see a dramatic reduction in the medium size, commercial size, systems that we sell,” he said.
“So while I think it’s better than the previous position, we’ll probably still see a quarter of the industry go very, very quiet.
“And that will definitely have an impact on employment.”http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-24/north-coast-solar-industry-worried-by-changes-to-renewable-ener/5839124
To many Traditional Owners, these places are known as sickness country, or poison country, and are often considered sacred. Upsetting the poison and letting out into the landscape would be a disaster, particularly in the life giving and food providing Mitchel River basin.
The Bill, passed in parliament in early September, gives the Coordinator General the power to exclude community objection rights over some of the largest mining projects
Mining companies now have more rights than the community in Newman’s Queensland http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/10/01/comment-mining-companies-now-have-more-rights-community-newmans-queensland 1 Oct 14 Queenslanders have more reason than ever to be concerned about uranium mining in the sunshine state. By Andrew Picone Back in 2012 Queensland Premier Campbell Newman made a series of ‘crystal clear’ commitments to keep the door closed to uranium mining in Queensland. In a letter to former ACF CEO Don Henry, Newman wrote “I take this opportunity to reaffirm my statements, made before the last election, that the State Government has no plans to approve the development of uranium in Queensland”.
It proved to be one of his first broken promises. Just a fortnight later this commitment was dumped, without any independent assessment or community consultation. Uranium mining would not just be permitted in Queensland, the Premier started actively encouraging uranium mining companies to set up shop in the sunshine state.
Fast forward to 2014 and Queenslanders have more reason than ever to be concerned. In an echo of the heavy handed police state politics that so characterized former Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke Petersen, the Queensland government’s hand-picked co-ordinator general will now have sole authority over major new mining projects.
Proposed legislative changes introduced in the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014, literally rushed through the Parliament at five minutes to midnight on September 9th 2014, in particular provision 47D entitled ‘restriction in giving of objection notice under the Environmental Protection Act’ – should sound the community alarm. Continue reading
First step to first community renewable energy retailer http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/nre-awarded-54000-to-work-on-business-plan/2407390/ Rodney Stevens | 3rd Oct 2014 THE first step towards the Rainbow Region becoming Australia’s first community energy retailer has been taken with Northern Rivers Energy (NRE) being awarded $54,000 to develop a business plan.
Formed by a consortium of environmentally conscious citizens, Northern Rivers Energy NRE was awarded the grant from the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Total Environment Centre.
NRE spokeswoman Alison Crook said the company would encompass energy retailing, generation and asset management, and an educational energy literacy arm.
She said NRE would service the entire Northern Rivers Region, covering the Tweed, Kyogle, Byron, Lismore, Ballina, Richmond Valley and Clarence Valley council areas.
“Here on the Northern Rivers we have all the ingredients necessary to demonstrate that communities can meet their energy needs without relying on fossil fuels and can live in greater harmony with the environment, and still flourish,” she said.
“The Northern Rivers already has a high level of take-up of solar PV. We have a community that really understands what it means to be a community and to support each other.
“If any region can show how the renewable industry can both create employment and reduce our impact on the environment, this region can.
“Once the NRE business plan and feasibility study are complete, community consultation will begin.”
Northern Rivers Energy aims
- Provide renewable energy and purchase solar and other renewable energy from residential, commercial and government system owners at fair prices.
- Facilitate community investment in medium scale renewable energy projects.
- Provide and maintain renewable energy equipment.
- Enable purchase of equipment by consumers through lease or finance arrangements.
- Partner with social housing providers, caravan parks and retirement villages to facilitate access to renewable energy and efficient solutions for people on low incomes.
Shadow Environment Minister Jackie Trad exposes foolish decision of Queensland govt on uranium mining
LNP under fire as companies target Qld uranium http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/lnp-uranium-green-light/2384465/ Bill Hoffman | 12th Sep 2014 THE ALP has slammed the Newman government decision to grant mineral development leases to two companies planning to mine uranium in Queensland.
Shadow Environment Minister Jackie Trad accused the LNP of lying before the last election when it gave what she described as a clear commitment not to endorse uranium mining.
“The Premier gave a clear election commitment but the granting of six exploration licences shows once again the value of an LNP promise,” she said.
“In breaking the promise, the Newman Government is ignoring the widespread objections of Queenslanders, ignoring the substantial environmental risks associated with uranium mining, ignoring the risks associated with the transportation ofradioactive material and ignoring the risks to public health and safety.
“It is a massive betrayal of trust.
“We are just a few steps away from having trucks and trains filled with uranium making their way through communities to ports and waterways.”
Ms Trad accused the Newman Government of arrogantly ignoring the wishes of the majority so it could pander to the demands of powerful vested interest groups.
She said there had been no uranium extraction in Queensland since 1982. Any future State Labor government would move swiftly to reinstate the ban. “It remains our view that the risks and hazards inherent in uranium mining far outweigh the economic benefits,” Ms Trad said.
“Even if all known deposits of uranium were mined the expected royalties would only be around 1% of the state’s current royalty revenue.”Uranium mining simply doesn’t stack up on either economic or environmental grounds.”
Ms Trad will be on the Sunshine Coast as special guest at her party’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland branch forum on the environment and the Newman Government’s track record on green policy.
It will be held at Maleny Neighbourhood Centre on Saturday, September 27 at 2pm.
“Even if all known deposits of uranium were mined the expected royalties would only be around 1% of the State’s current royalty revenue,” she said.
“We are just a few steps away from having trucks and trains filled with uranium making their way through communities to ports and waterways.”
Ms Trad said there had been no uranium extraction in Queensland since 1982 and confirmed that a future State Labor Government would move swiftly to reinstate the ban” .
Australia’s Queensland state seeks investment from Indian firms in uranium mining Business Today Anilesh S Mahajan August 29, 2014 A week before Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott lands in New Delhi on his first trip to India, the Australian state of Queensland is soliciting investments from Indian companies to mine uranium…….
The organized opposition to the federal government’s moves to abolish or reduce Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) has begun. More than 500 people attended a rally in Brisbane to protest against changes to the RET. The Australian Solar Council launched a campaign against the federal government making changes to the RET. Its first event in the northeastern state of Queensland on Thursday attracted 500 attendees.
The council’s CEO John Grimes said that a clear message has been sent to the government that Australians in key electorates are willing to vote to defend renewable energy in the country.
“Tonight over 500 solar heroes have come forward to send a clear warning to the Abbott government,” said Grimes. He said the message to Abbott’s conservative government has been clear: “We love solar, solar saves us money on power bills [and] we will vote to defend the Renewable Energy Target!”
The Save Solar campaign has also raised the ire of the government. Environment Minister Greg Hunt slammed John Grimes on ABC Radio……..
“The Environment Minister should be attacking the Prime Minister’s radical plan to shut down the solar industry, not shooting the messenger,” said Grimes. “Today’s outburst shows how scared the Government is of this national campaign to Save Solar taking hold.”
There have been a host of surveys showing that Australians are supportive of renewable energy and the RET. With over 1.3 million solar households around the country, certainly a large number of people have first hand experience of solar.
The Australian Newspaper, a Rupert Murdoch owned publication that is generally skeptical of climate change and is often critical of renewable energy has been running a series of surveys about Australian’s attitudes towards renewables. In its most recent survey, it found that 88% of Australians support renewable energy, while only 8% report being “totally against.”
The Australian currently has a second survey live here.
Australia’s Clean Energy Council is also currently campaigning against changes to the RET. It’s CEO Kane Thornton argues that even a reduction of the RET to a “true 20%,” proposed as a compromise measure, would devastate the renewable energy industry in Australia. http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/australia–pro-solar-rally-slams-attack-on-renewable-target_100016170/#axzz3BRV0obrI