At the outset there are two interests to declare. Firstly, I have two farms in the Gloucester area, one of which is likely to be directly affected by mining or related activities.

Secondly, iGo2 has agreed to help the community based organisation ‘Save Gloucester’ create and utilise a social media presence to further its aim.

Why are we doing this?

There are really 5 different but intertwined reasons why we are working with ‘Save Gloucester’:

1. We want to Save Gloucester

Each of us has visited the area for recreational purposes and its really one of the most beautiful regions in NSW. Its used to access Barrington Tops – a World Heritage Area. Many people move through Gloucester and it shoud be kept the way it is for the amenity of not just the residents, but for all who frequent the area. If you want to see what mining can do to a landscape – or perhaps moonscape is better term – then visit the Singleton area. Its not pretty.

2. It is about the debate on land use

There is a debate that needs to be had on land use in Australia. Whilst mining does exist in a small way in the Gloucester area – and residents are resigned to that – the policy around strategic land use is currently not balanced. Mining pays the State Government huge exploration license fees and the approval process seems very unbalanced. When does agriculture and food security balance minerals export?

3. Its also about environmental issues

Coal is used for power generation in Australia and elsewhere and whilst we seem to be moving in the direction of a carbon tax in Australia we still seem happy to export climate change through the export of coal. Another debate that needs to happen. And with Coal Seam Gas now approved its potentially about the degradation of water supplies, chemical use in the fraccing process and more

4. Its also about access issues and planning processes

In NSW there are some interesting Planning laws (the so called Part 3 (c) ) which allow the minister to approve applications for leases, mines etc – even against departmental advice. And laws in this country means its very difficult for the landowner to restrict access to the property they in theory own.

5. Can Social Media be effective in Community Campaigns

Local community groups have been fighting for years to get their voices heard on these issues. But these are small communities – Gloucester and surrounds only have 5000 residents and the politicians dont seem to take much notice when a seat is not on offer. Its hard to be heard. At iGo2 we saw them struggling with this and have suggested to use Social Media as way of increasing reach and influence and to involve a much broader selection of the population. Not just the residents, but all those who use the area for camping, outdoor recreation, local businesses, the motorcycle clubs who ride through the area and so on. So we thought we would assist the Save Gloucester campaign by helping them leverage social media. We will use this as a case study and report updates on our blog.

If you are interested in Save Gloucester then Like & Help them on http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Gloucester/101885969894698