Monday, November 29, 2010

Save the Bylong Valley!

This just in...

MEDIA RELEASEFor Immediate Release
Sunday, 13th November, 2010
Mining v. agriculture battle arrives in Bylong Valley
The battle for the protection of farming land from mining activity has opened a new
front today, with the announcement of the formation of the Bylong Valley Protection

The new group, established at a community meeting at Bylong over the weekend, has
appointed an interim executive and committee, pending full registration with the
Office of Fair Trading, which is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.
Around 40 people attended the meeting, which was addressed by local eco-tourism
operator Julia Imrie and Cathy Pattullo, a former resident of the Cumbo Valley, which was badly affected by noise from the nearby Wilpinjong mine.
Interim President, local Jodie Nancarrow, said that the name “pretty much says it all.
It’s about protecting the Bylong Valley - and everything that’s so special and unique
about it. And the biggest threat at the moment is mining.” Earlier this year, Anglo
American Coal announced the sale of its proposed Bylong mine to Kepco of Korea
for $403M.

The Bylong Valley – with its celebrated annual charity ‘Mouse Races’ - has become
even better known in recent years with the sealing of the Bylong Valley Way, and is
now a significant tourist gateway from the Upper Hunter to the Central West.
Also under threat from the proposed mining activity is ‘Tarwyn Park’, home of Peter
Andrews’ revolutionary method of landscape restoration and water management,
‘Natural Sequence Farming’, and familiar to many through the ABC’s ‘Australian

[Notes: Bylong is located approximately 90km north-east of Mudgee and 120km west of Muswellbrook. While technically ‘Upper Hunter’ in terms of geography it comes under Mid-Western Regional Council.]

Media Contacts:Jodie Nancarrow – Interim President – 02 63798252
Craig Shaw – Interim Secretary – 0411 101988 (

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Not so "Evil" after all?

A few months ago motorcyclists protested in Sydney over the rising cost of compulsory third party insurance (CTP), placards were waved and chants were raised, the best placard slogan was contributed by yours truly "Evil Keneally can go jump" (like that one? lovely little play on words).

Despite my obvious pride in coming up with that one I do have to admit that maybe NSW State Premier Kristina Keneally is not so evil after all, first she canned the Bickham Coal Mine proposal and now this:

Tillegra Dam plans scrapped
The New South Wales Government has scrapped its plans for the Tillegra Dam in the Hunter region.

Planning Minister Tony Kelly has rejected the proposal and is now outlining his reasons at a media conference in Newcastle, which is also being attended by Premier Kristina Keneally.
The move comes on the back of immense opposition to the project which would have cost nearly $500 million.

The Government had argued the dam was needed to secure long-term water supplies in the Lower Hunter.

The New South Wales Greens said the Government risked losing up to four seats in the Hunter at the next election if it had approved the plan.

Greens MLC John Kaye says the decision to scrap plans for the dam is a huge victory for common sense and the environment, saving Hunter residents from big water bills.

"This was a dam that was never properly justified," he said.

"It's a dam that would have done huge damage to the Lower Hunter wetlands and it's a dam that would have been incredibly expensive. Half a billion dollars [was to be] taken out of the economy of the Hunter for no appreciable gain in water security.

"People in the Hunter understand how unnecessary, how expensive and how damaging this dam will be... [the Premier] will have to account for herself before the voters of the Hunter."

It's amazing how well pollies listen when the polls are telling them people think they stink. It'll be interesting to see what opposition leader Barry O'Farrel has to say about this, especially given his promise to keep the levy on water rates and spend it on something else.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Trying to take the "Con" out of Consultants

Over the past few months I've had some reports land on my desk for me to read and comment on, some haven't been too bad, some have been truly abysmal. So here's the thing, your clients might think they're wonderful but the people who do the reviewing, commenting and sometimes even approving soon get to know who knows what they're talking about and who doesn't. People and companies that hand in good work have an easier time getting through the system, people and companies that hand in shit? Well, they tend to get scrutinised a lot more and it really is a pain for all concerned so in the interest of making it easier for all of us here's some suggestions on how you can improve things.

1) Use the fucking spellcheck and make sure you spell the location of the proposal correctly, it really is unprofessional when you've got the name of the road/town etc right on the title page and wrong everywhere else.

2) Don't get carried away with using big words, they may impress your client but if you've got spelling mistakes through the text as well as a tendency to throw in big words everywhere we'll just think you're an idiot.

3) Botanical nomenclature, serious, go and read up on it, it is capital letter for the first letter of the Genus, lower case for the species and the name should be in italics e.g. Eucalyptus robusta. It shows professionals that you are one too, or at least have a reasonable understanding (and again correct spelling and try to keep up to date with name changes, though the name change thing isn't as vital).

4) Nomenclature again "sp." means single species, "spp." means multiple species, if you don't know the difference learn it and use it otherwise we don't know if you're to multiple species or singular.

5) Ensure adequate time on site, one eight hour visit in winter is not long enough for a flora survey, fauna survey and targetted species survey, really, it's not. And try to get identifications past just the genus level (particularly when there's only three species in that genus in the area and all of them are very distinct)

6) If you're doing a targetted species search for endangered orchids (particularly terrestrial) do it at a time of year the flower is out because otherwise you're not going to fucking find it (and don't bullshit me with your PhD and try to tell me the survey was undertaken by "experienced staff", experienced staff wouldn't make that mistake).

7) Even the most flogged out property will have more than 27 native plant species on 360 Ha of land (and more than 7 native animal species), you have to remember that the document you write may be read by someone that knows the area.

8) Make sure the species you mention in the text are included in your appendix.

9) Mark the fucking location on a map of where you did the survey, don't just give grid co ordinates, it makes work for us and again, we'll think you're an idiot.

10) Use appropriate and recognised methodologies, if you're not sure ask someone and don't go on about which methodologies you didn't use and not tell us about which ones you did otherwise we'll just think you're making up shit.

Start off with those and it will make all of our lives a lot easier and remember if you try bullshitting your way through, you will be found out.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Get Fracked!

The movie "Gasland" explores coal seam gas extraction in the US and in particular the process of "fracking" where high pressure chemicals are pumped underground to fracture the coal seam so the gas can be extracted.

If you're interested:
When: Tuesday, November 30 · 6:00pm - 8:30pm
Location: Greater Union Tower Cinemas
King Street
Newcastle, Australia