MERC Newsletter – March 2018


Delegates, here is the March 2018 Newsletter under the new name of the “Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils (NSW) Incorporated” as approved by the Department of Fair Trading with the acronym of MERC.

Our new logo (Option B with amendments to the wording so it reads “Mining and Energy” in large letters to emphasise our focus on Mining & Energy and underneath it has “Related Councils NSW” next to the green symbol on the left) was also agreed to after much debate by delegates.The logo will be soon on our website and correspondence.

This newsletter has a lot of important information in it for you to read, please circulate this to your fellow councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters.

Next Meetings in Cobar 10/11th May 2018

The Executive Committee will meet at 9.00am in the Cobar RSL on 10TH May. The Workshop on Solar Farming commences at 1.00pm in the Auditorium at the Cobar RSL Club on 10th May 2018. The Ordinary meeting will be held the next day on 11th May 2018 in the Cobar RSL Club Auditorium to commence from 9.00am and finish at 1.00pm with lunch.

The Solar Farming workshop on Thursday 10th May 2018 will commence at 1.00pm with a keynote speaker and representatives from Councils in the Orana region (members and non members) that have been through the Solar Farming development process to share the lessons learnt, to outline the pitfalls and best practices.

Invitations have been sent to senior government agency staff to participate and speak from the DPE and DPC plus local Federal and State members such as Mark Coulton, Rick Colless and Kevin Humphries. Mayor or Councillor and General Managers of Balranald, Warren and Walgett Shire have accepted invitations to attend the workshop, network dinner on 10th May 2018 and Ordinary meeting next day on 11th May 2018. This is what MERC set out to achieve by inviting those Councils on Minister Roberts’ recent media release on solar developments that were not members of MERC but may potentially become a member. Still waiting on Hay, Carrathool and Gilgandra Shire Councils to respond. Coulton is an apology.

To assist delegates with their accommodation, bookings will need to be made early as accommodation is at a premium, so Cobar Shire Council have provided the following details for the accommodation to assist. Note travel will be limited to driving or flying to Dubbo and hiring vehicles to drive to Cobar or arrange a private air charter to Cobar Airport. Options:-

Cobar Central Motor Inn

18 Murray Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6830 2000; Email:  Website:

Cobar Town and Country Motor Inn

52 Marshall Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6836 1244


Cobar Oasis Motel

76 Marshall Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6836 2844; Email: Website:

Copper City Motel

40 Lewis Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6836 2404;Email: Website:

Cobar Caravan Park

101 Marshall Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6836 2425; Email: Website:

There is also accommodation available at the Crossroads Motel, Great Western and Empire Hotels if having difficulty getting a booking. This is a mining town with high demand for the facilities. The Cobar races are on Saturday 12th May 2018, which the Mayor of Cobar Shire Council and Deputy Chair of the Association, Clr. Lilliane Brady, would like delegates to stay for and to have a look around the Shire before returning. If attending the races, please inform the Cobar Shire Council Mayor’s office so catering & entry as a guest so arrangements can be made. Call Mayor’s EA Janette Booth on 02 68365809 or email

Attendance at Next meeting 11th May 2018

Just a regular reminder to delegates we always need to guarantee we have a Quorum for the Ordinary Meeting on 11th May 2018. Therefore your presence is recommended. Attendance at the meetings in Sydney were excellent, thank you, now for Cobar.Your advice on who is attending from your Council, as soon as possible to the Executive Officer by email would be appreciated to ensure we have a quorum and for catering purposes. Currently, the Association has 19 members so that means half plus one for a quorum = 10. Agendas will be out about ten to seven days before the meetings as per the constitution. The Executive Officer will send out a Meeting Notice reminder in April and in the next Newsletter to keep reminding delegates of the meetings.

Speakers at the the Solar Farm Workshop on 10th May 2018 and/or Ordinary Meeting on 11th May 2018

In addition to the speakers from Dubbo City Council, Warren and other Councils with solar farming projects, approaches have also been made to Mike Young at DPE, Clean Energy Council, Clean Energy Regulator, Ashley Albury at DPC and a Charles Sturt University contact to have speakers for either the Workshop or Ordinary meeting at Cobar. Mayor of Cobar Shire Council and Deputy Chair of MERC. They will be followed up until I get committments from them.

Update on the Joint Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)

A meeting was held in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 after the Ordinary meeting with Chris Wilson, consultant appointed by the DPE (agreed to by the NSW Minerals Council and MERC to the VPA Joint Working Party). In attendance were consultant Warwick Giblin and our delegates, Clr Owen Hasler and Steve Loane to update Chris on progress with the Joint VPAWP for his report to the DPE which was due by mid April 2018. A copy of the draft will be considered by the delegates beforehand. The consultant has assured the Executive Officer the draft will be available next week (from 9th April ) for the working party to consider.

The DPE are keen to capture the information agreed by the respective parties and include it in the Guidelines on VPA’S as a Practice Note or similar, but needed to have an independent interview the parties and write the report for them to consider given the opposed arguments and political sensitivities.

Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions (R4R)

The Executive Officer as the delegate for the Association attended a RIAP meeting in Sydney on 1st March 2018. There was $50.6m on the table for assessment of the 24 shortlisted applications from the last R4R 2017 round for recommendation to the CEO Infrastructure NSW thereafter for a Cabinet decision, however not all the funds were committed as they did not meet the requirements despite being shortlisted. The Executive Officer cannot release any specific details due to confidentiality obligations but has given a commitment to members to provide information to assist members where possible when submitting future applications at the next meeting of delegates in May 2018. Minister Barilaro has been approached for a meeting awaiting advice from his office (he is in USA) on R4R.


The Executive Officer has been in discussion with CIBIS on the format for the new website and will be presenting the draft format to Executive Committee to consider with the aim to have it finalised by the May meetings in Cobar.

Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020

The Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020 was adopted at the Special General Meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 with changes reflected in the minutes of the Special General Metting 23rd Febraury 2018 which have now been distributed to delegates. The Executive Officer has developed a report format (agreed to by the Executive Committee) which will be submitted to delegates quarterly as part of the Ordinary meeting Executive Officer’s report with comments on progress with the actions therein. The Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020 will be posted on the website.

Constitution Review

The Constitution has been rewritten to incorporate all of the changes made at the Special General Meeting held on 17th November 2017 and on 23rd February 2018 and adopted with several more changes to complement the Strategic directional changes and further clarify interpretations of the content therein which have not been debated for a long time in the vigorous manner they were at the meeting on 23rd February 2018. The amended Constitution has now been approved by the Department of Fair Trading and will be posted on the web site.

The Executive Committee will consider the interpretation of “a minimum of two terms “ (is it two terms as a delegate of the Council for the term of the Council ie  two four year terms or two years as an annual appointment as the delegate of the Council for two terms?) for life membership eligibility in Clause 4.5 for discussion with delegates in May.

Next Meetings of Association for 2018 – August and November

The Association has its next meeting in Cobar in 10/11th May 2018 and arrangements are being made to have the August meeting in Sydney at Parliament House again, we will work around the Country Mayors date on 3rd August 2018 and an email has been sent to book NSW Parliament House for 8/9th. We will have another regional meeting in the Upper Lachlan Shire in November when its warmer!.

The Executive will decide on the date for the November 2018 meeting in consultation with the Upper Lachlan Council at Crookwell or a larger Council in the region for the wind farming developments workshops and membership drive.

Membership Campaign

Warren Shire Council could not attend our Sydney meeting but have resolved to send a Councillor and General Manager (Glenn Wilcox, Life Member of the Association) to our next meeting in Cobar as observers and then to report back to their Council on whether to join the Association or not. They have a very large solar farm development proposed for construction at Nevertire on Mitchell Highway, near Warren and are interested in being part of our voice.

The observer from Mid Coast Council, (M/s Lisa Schiff, Director Planning and Natural Resources) that attended our meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 has reported that Mid Coast Council has resolved to become being a member of the Association, in view of coal mining development expansion in the Gloucester area which is now part of Mid Coast Council and the strategic direction of MERC. Hopefully the Solar Farm workshop and meetings at Cobar 10/11th May 2018 result in Balranald, Warren and Walgett all joining the Association

In discussions with prominent people in Local Government, the critical point of difference and selling points of our Association are that the Association is specific on its issues; has seen there is a need to be the voice for energy for Councils; is not hampered by getting involved with broader whole of state matters; has a seat at the table; its advice is sought by the government; we have experienced delegates on government working groups representing the members voices; we are not political and don’t have any collaborative problems within our group of dedicated delegates!

Why wouldn’t a Council join or or why would they leave, you have to ask the question are they truly representing their constituents under the Local Government Act when mining and energy issues are affecting their communities, are the legislated planning processes adequate to do this? Keep talking to your neighbours about the benefits of being a member of MERC.

The Executive Committee at its May meeting is to consider the adoption of a Marketing Policy and Plan to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW.

Southern NSW and New England areas will be targeted, like we have with Orana and Upper Lachlan.

 Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues in the Press

“Cadia Mine closed”

Here is a link provided by Heather Nicholls, Cabonne Shire Council delegates for the information of delegates. Basically the Cadia gold mine near Orange and Blayney was shut down pending an investigation as to why there was a tailings dam wall breach and the Environment Protection Authority is investigating. The mine has since been cleared to re-open.

“Thousands rally against coal’ Chris Bath reported in the Northern Daily Leader on 2nd April  2018 that farmers on horseback joined over 5000 fellow protesters in Sydney’s CBD over the weekend taking the message of environmental sustainability to the door of the Berejiklian Government. Protesters were from Bingara, lead by farmer Glenn Morris, First Nations people, including a large Gomeroi contingent and others. Mr Morris called for a ban on Coal Seam Gas and Mining to focus on sustainability. He says “ There is devastation because of climate change all across NSW, we cant afford to destroy any more healthy land”. Farmers from the Liverpool Plains, Lock the Gate Alliance and Nature Conservation Council (NCC) were all represented. Kate Smolski, CEO of NCC says “ we have one of the most coal dependent energy systems in the world, with 79% of our electricity coming from coal. The transition from coal and gas to solar, wind and storage will attract $25 billion of investment, the construction of about 2500 wind turbines and the installation of more 42 million solar panels across the state. It’s a big job, but making the NSW electricity system 100% renewable is 100% doable. The only thing missing is strong political leadership” Refer deratls in 2nd April 2018.

“Coal fired plants on the backburner worldwide” Peter Hannam, Environment editor in the Sydney Morning Herald, 23rd March 2018, writes that Coal-fired power is on track to start shrinking globally by 2022 dimming prospects for exporters of the fossil fuel, including Australia, according to a report by environmental groups. The article provided details on the reduction in the number of coal fired power plants in China and India and says the global trends raise questions about the outlook for Australia’s coal export markets and the wisdom of government support to open up major new mines, such as Adani in the Galilee Basin QLD. NSW Minerals Council declined to comment. Matt Canavan, Federal Resources Minister said “coal would continue to be an important power source for decades to come. He said the International Energy Agency predicts Asian Coal demand will increase by almost 12% from 2016 through to 2040”. Refer 23rd March 2018 for details.

“Energy Operator trying to fill the gap” Cole Latimer in Sydney Morning Herald 23rd March 2018 in his article writes that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) want the governments’ National Energy Guarantee (NEG) pushed through as it questions AGL’s committment to replace the electricity lost when its Liddell coal – fired power plant closes. AEMO says the uncertainty around AGL’s promise to replace all power lost when Liddell closes in 2022 may create a 850 megawatt shortfall, but the National Energy Guarantee could encourage other players to replace it instead of pushing AGL to commit to new generation. The CEO of AEMO Audrey Zibleman said “ due to the volume of the gap the AEMO’s preference is that either the NEG or a mechanism that can be used for NSW with a pending NEG will be agreed by year end 2018 for use during 2019. The NEG was vital for the market as no competing energy policies exist.” Refer 23rd March 2018.

“Town mulls over $600m wind farm” Jamieson Murphy in Northern Daily Leader 9th March 2018 in his article outlines the proposed $600 million wind farm near Nundle, northern NSW, would bring more than 300 jobs to the region according to the project’s developer. There is also potential for it to include a solar farm. The developer is to create a community investment fund “to give back to the region”. More than one third of the the town’s 300 people turned up to a community meeting about the development. The reaction from the community has not been in favour as indicated in the press since, due to the appearance on the horizons of the wind turbines. Refer for details.

Councils eye renewable development” Laurie Bullock  reports in the Northern Daily Leader 27th March 2018 that representatives from Councils around the New England part of the state met with Parliamentary Secretary for Renewab;le Energy Ben Franklin in Armidale on 26th March 2018 where they discussed how they could get together to drive investment in the region. This was in light of a state government report released last week indicating the New England as a location where wind farms, solar farms and pumped hydro electricity could all be developed. The report was a submission from the state government to the AEMO which said the New England along with Central West and South West of NSW “could unlock 77,000 megawatts of new generation capacity”. Due to the size of the state, these three areas could become the biggest electricity producers in the country, the article said! Refer to for details.

Biggest wind farm in NSW makes way for greener energy and more jobs” David Marchese on ABC News wrote this story, Chair of MERC, Cr Peter Shinton has been mentioned in it. This link was submitted courtesy of Cr Michael Banasik on 4th April 2018.


If you have any queries in relation to this newsletter please do not hesitate to contact the Chair or the Executive Officer to see how we can assist you in your busy role as a Council delegate to the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils.

Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email or or phone on 0407937636.


Greg Lamont                                                                                      Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

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