CAMBERWELL resident Wendy Bowman denies she has hypocritically benefited from the Hunter Valley coal industry while acting as one of its most persistent critics.
Since 2005, Ms Bowman has lived at a family property, Rosedale, at Camberwell, which is now in the path of the planned Ashton South East open-cut mine.
As the Newcastle Herald reported on December 23, a Land and Environment Court decision means Ashton’s owner Yancoal must buy the Bowman property before the mine can proceed.
Ms Bowman is determined not to sell.
Before 2005, Ms Bowman lived a few kilometres closer to Singleton on another Bowman family property, Granbalang, that was sold to make way for the Rixs Creek open-cut mine.
At Granbalang she was one of a relatively small number of NSW land-holders who were paid for the coal under her land.
Ms Bowman said on Monday that private coal rights were a hangover from the 19th century.
They were used by colonial administrators to help encourage early settlers – like the family she married into – to take up land.
Given her background, some in the coal industry have questioned Ms Bowman’s opposition to mining while she has made money from it.
Asked about those perceptions, Ms Bowman acknowledged being paid for Rixs Creek coal, but said the money, which came in ‘‘several’’ payments, amounted to no more than ‘‘a few hundred thousand dollars’’.
‘‘It was certainly a modest amount compared with the amount of coal they took from there,’’ Ms Bowman said.
She declined to say how much Rixs Creek paid for Granbalang, except to say it was less than they were paying for similar properties nowadays.
In 2005, the Herald quoted Ms Bowman as saying she was ‘‘staying [in the area]’’ because ‘‘these companies need to be pulled into line’’.
On Tuesday, Ms Bowman said she moved to Camberwell in a hurry because Rixs Creek had given her 28days to move after it found out she was trying to have the historic Granbalang homestead heritage listed.
Rosedale was in the family and when a tenant moved out, she moved in, believing the government would never allow mining on the alluvial river flats.
‘‘Now they are, but I am staying put because we believe they are too precious, and the consequences for everyone downstream too great, for this to go ahead,’’ Ms Bowman said.