Last straw for Camberwell resident

LONG-STANDING Camberwell residents are on the verge of abandoning their beloved village after decades of fighting the effects of mining on their lives.

Wendy Bowman, whose family have lived in the district since the early 1800s, said she would probably leave unless Ashton Coal’s South East Open Cut coalmine could be successfully challenged.

‘‘We are waiting to see if there are enough people who want to fight it before we decide,’’ she said.

‘‘If not, there is just no point in it (staying).

The Planning Assessment Commission gave the green light this week to the $83 million mine, which it previously rejected.

The project is expected to create an estimated 160 jobs and extract 16.5 million tonnes of coal over seven years.

It is also likely to lead to the loss of the historic Camberwell common.

The common was a community-managed asset from the 1880s until the former state government handed its control to Ashton Coal in 2010.

The once thriving agricultural community has dwindled from a population of about 70 to less than 20 since the early 2000s.

Only four Camberwell residents still own their homes outright. The remainder are owned by surrounding mining companies.

Ms Bowman said several residents had indicated to her this week that the South East Open Cut project would make their lives unbearable.

The phones of Ms Bowman and another prominent Camberwell resident were unexpectedly disconnected this week.

‘‘You have to wonder,’’ Ms Bowman said.

‘‘It’s a very dirty business.’’

WAIT AND SEE: Wendy Bowman, one of the four home owners left in Camberwell, is considering whether to give up the fight against Ashton Coal.