Locals in Bylong Valley hope to buy land back after Liverpool Plains precedent | Newcastle Herald

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Residents of Bylong Valley are hopeful that one of the state’s richest agricultural food-producing districts could once again be controlled by local families if South Korean mining giant KEPCO finally abandons its plans to exploit the area. It comes after a group of neighbors in the Liverpool Plains this week bought back land purchased for Shenhua’s planned Watermark coal mine near Gunnedah. China Shenhua Energy Company acquired more than 40 locations in 2009 and 2010 for over $ 190 million. After a fierce public campaign, the state government agreed to pay Shenhua $ 262 million in 2017 to return 51 percent of the exploration license. A drop in the prospect of thermal coal exports prompted the government to make another deal to cancel the project in April last year. Shenhua received an additional $ 100 million in public funds to return its mining rights. On Monday, the government revealed that it had sold 16,000 acres to 12 local farming families and an offshore buyer. Local farmer and anti-coal mine advocate Andrew Pursehouse estimated that Shenhua had paid local farmers “five to 10 times” what properties were worth 13 years ago to secure them for their mining project. There were high hopes at the end of last year that a similar scenario could unfold in Bylong, as Kepco lost its second legal appeal against the Independent Planning Commission’s 2019 decision to reject its mine proposal because of the impact it would have. had on the water, the highly productive agricultural land and the climate. Instead, the company has indicated that it wants to bring the case to the high court. KEPCO has reportedly paid about $ 115 million for more than 12,000 acres (about 42 percent of the Bylong Valley), including a church, grocery store, local public school and significant private country estate, including historic Tarwyn Park. Some locals hope that the land will again be owned by the locals. “It would be great. Even if we went a better than [the Liverpool Plains buyback] and had Bylong all Australian owned, “said Farmer and Bylong Valley Protection Alliance President Phillip Kennedy.” It would be great to see the valley filled with mother and father farmers, who are the most productive units in Australia for this kind of land. You might be able to get businesses out west in big acre things, but that’s not going to happen here. It’s predominantly cattle, small farms. “Among the properties that KEPCO owns is Tarwyn Park, home to natural sequence farming in Australia. Stuart Andrews sold the property, which had been in his family for 40 years in 2014. While he was delighted the prospect of KEPCO relieving property, he said he was unsure if he would be interested in buying it back. “I have said that if it were to be sold, it would be better to buy it by the government and hand it over to the public and set up as an institute of learning, “he said.” I would love nothing more than to go back there. There is a lot of history there – good and bad. For us as a family, we would probably be better off visiting instead of living there. “Lock the Gate Alliance spokeswoman Georgina Woods said the Liverpool Plains repurchase had set a precedent that should be applied to Bylong.” Instead of continue to drag the Bylong community into the long haul. through the courts, KEPCO should accept that it will never build its coal mine in the valley and sell the land back to farming families, “she said.” Farmers in the Liverpool Plains have only just signed the agreement to buy land back from Shenhua, but there is already a feeling of joy in the community. This sets a precedent that KEPCO and the NSW Perrottet government must apply to the Bylong Valley. “The South Korean government, which owns KEPCO, has ambitious climate targets that do not coincide with the opening of new coal mines.” The Bylong Valley should never have been made available for coal mining. Now, more than ever, it makes no sense to sacrifice this agricultural power plant for a twilight industry. “The Perrottet government must now turn off the coal license, just as the state government did with Shenhua on the Liverpool plain, and make productive farmland out of mining forever so that Bylong can once again become the prosperous city it used to be.” IN THE NEWS: Our journalists works hard to deliver local, up-to-date news to the local community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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