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Friends of Felton win battle but war still remains

Felton residents react to Amber starting to drill on a property in the area, setting up a protest on the highway.Ian Whan, friends of felton president. Photo: Bev Lacey / The Chronicle
Felton residents react to Amber starting to drill on a property in the area, setting up a protest on the highway.Ian Whan, friends of felton president. Photo: Bev Lacey / The Chronicle Bev Lacey

ANTI-MINING campaigners in Felton have declared victory after an admission by Ambre Energy that its coal mining operations in the area would not go ahead.

The company has been plagued by financial trouble over the past 12 months, recording a $62.8 million loss last financial year.

Now it is expected to write off more than $10 million in project costs after yielding to pressure to shut-down its Felton operations.

Premier Campbell Newman declared in August that the project would not happen under his government, but the company continued to fight for its approval.

Friends of Felton president Ian Whan said Ambre's admission today was confirmation the fight had been worth the time and effort.

"It is all very well to declare victory yourself, but it is a lot sweeter if the other side admits defeat," he said.

"Until today there was always a lingering doubt."

The Ambre Energy buildings and signage are still erected, but Mr Whan said no staff had been seen in the area for months.  

"It is all very quiet on the Western Front," he said.

Despite the triumph, Friends of Felton will continue as a group and has set its sights on fighting the Stage 3 expansion of the New Acland Coal Mine.

Opponents have until February 4 to make submissions against the draft terms of reference for diminished expansion plan.

Oakey Coal Action Alliance president Peter Faulkner applauded his Felton collaborators but said his fight was far from over.

"I'm very happy for them. It has been a hard-won battle," he said.

"It shows just what a united community can achieve.

"But we already have a mine, so our fight will be a lot harder.

"The unfortunate thing about the Acland mine is that the company was buying up land before people really knew what was going on.

"That made it a lot easier to get a foothold in the region."

Mr Faulkner said his group was hard at work collating its objections before the cut-off date next month.

"I am concerned that the Deputy Premier (Jeff Seeney) has met with New Hope three times that I know of since the election," he said.

"Yet he just won't meet with us.

"The new plan is reduced in size, but the same concerns about its impacts still remain.

"Having this hanging over our heads has been the cause of a lot of sleepless nights, but we can't give up now."

Topics:  acland, ambre energy, csg, friends of felton, lng, mining, new hope coal, resources, toowoomba


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