THE New England North West Presbytery of The Uniting Church in Australia this week issued a statement calling on the NSW Government to provide for greater protection for the farmlands and sensitive environments of the Liverpool Plains and North West Plains area.
The regional council of The Uniting Church in Australia in the New England and North West has expressed “grave concern about the impact of some proposed mining activity on productive agricultural land and environmentally significant areas as well as the economic, social and health impacts on the local communities in the State’s North West.”
The Statement emphasises that Christian tradition includes “caring for creation”, and an awareness of humankind’s duty to provide wise stewardship of the earth, pointing out that “respect for nature and ecological responsibility are key parts of our faith.”
It expresses concern that “the proposed coal mines and coal seam gas fields may have an irreversible damaging impact on the soil, water, environment, and people of our region”. It calls for protection of water resources, and for keeping some areas strictly for sustainable agriculture and food production.
This statement is only one of a number of recent expressions of concern by Church leaders in various parts of Australia, about the impact of mining on farmland and natural areas. The Presbytery wants to add its voice to similar calls from other groups including farmers’ associations and environmental groups.
It is based on a similar call issued three years ago jointly by the Anglican and Catholic Bishops of Toowoomba, and the Uniting Church leader in that area
Recently, the Anglican Bishop of Gippsland, John McIntyre, also expressed doubts about the safety of coal seam gas extraction, and called for the Victorian Government to test the environmental impact of extraction methods.