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Family raises fears that coal mine could ruin dairy farm

NOEL Wieck and his son Grant own one of the region's most profitable and successful dairy farms - if you poured a glass of Norco milk, there's a chance you're drinking produce from their property north of Jondaryan.

But the family fears its days on the property Chelmonte are numbered if the proposed expansion of the New Acland Coal Mine goes ahead.

Situated just 2km from the outlined area for Stage 3 of the mine, Mr Wieck has deep concerns for their supply of groundwater should New Hope get the go-ahead.

He said their main bore, which supplies water to their dairy operation, was 100m deep and part of a series of basalt bores that made up the underground water network the property depended on.

Mr Wieck was concerned New Hope would start cutting off his localised basalt bore network when it started digging, water he said would not be used for mining operations.

He said he was further worried about New Hope's plan to not properly rehabilitate the areas it excavated, leaving voids allowing underground water to leach in and evaporate.

Grant agreed with his father, saying he was worried whether the property would produce dairy by the time his own son took over.

"That's a potential consequence (if the expansion goes ahead). We need our groundwater," he said.

"We can crop 1100 acres (445 hectares) but this would not provide a level of income that sustains us as well as our existing dairy operation.

"We're not radicals or trouble-makers - we're just trying to look after our livelihood."

Grant disputed New Hope's insistence its land use practices were environmentally sustainable.

"While New Hope pontificates on a high standard of rehabilitation in Stages 1 and 2, the land use they've allowed for is in no way as productive as what it was before," he said.

"It's currently been used for political purposes to justify their expansion and to distract any attention from their intentions in Stage 3."

All parties involved in the dispute will be looking out for the Land Court's decision on the mine in the new year, in a case that has become the longest of its kind in Queensland's history.

Topics:  dairy farm new acland toowoomba


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