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Bulga residents take the fight to Sydney in last bid to save their village

Bulga mine protest comes to the city. 7 August 2016. Photos: Han Nguyen Story: Han Nguyen Photo: Han NguyenTwo hundred people from 40 communities across NSW have gathered in the heart of Sydney to establish a “New Bulga”, a temporary village to symbolise the loss of the community to the impacts of coal mining.
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After fighting the proposed Rio Tinto Warkworth coal mine expansion for more than six years, the residents of Bulga have exhausted all legal options to stop the project.

AnneMareeMcLaughlin from Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association said life would be unbearable for whoever is left in the village and has called for Planning Minister Rob Stokes and the Baird government to “restore the rights of local communities to appeal the merits coal mines approvals in court” in a last bid to save Bulga.

“We are sick of the wilful ignorance of the government regarding the destructive impacts from the mining and coal extraction,” Ms McLaughlin said.”We are heart sick and physically sick from years of trying to protect our homes, our heritage, water and the land.”

Section of Rio Tinto’s Warkworth sediment dam that gave way during the early January big rains. Photo: John Krey, via Newcastle Herald

Ms McLaughlin said the government and mining industry should be held accountable for any harmcaused by the mine expansion.

Bulga residents ceremoniously declared the land behind state parliament to be ‘New Bulga’, digging into the ground at The Domain saying the current and existing village of Bulga is becoming “unliveable”.

The proposed Rio Tinto Warkworth coal mine expansion has been the subject of a long-running battle between the mining giant and the Bulga community. Locals have been firm in their stance against the impact on the area’s heritage, including Saddle Ridge, the Warkworth Sands Woodlands, and convict-built Wallaby Scrub Road.

The Planning Assessment Commission approved the expansion in November 2015, which will see the life of the mine extended by more than 20 years.

Residents withdrew their appeal in the Land and Environment court in May, after being advised a challenge to protect the Warkworth Sands Woodland would not succeed.

The “New Bulga”community will move to Martin Place on Monday where community representatives will also meet with the Minister for Environment and Heritage’s office.

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