Wollar Progress Association has reacted with shock and dismay at the sudden approval of the controversial Wilpinjong coal mine extension, made public today, just a week after public submissions closed.
Submissions to the Planning Assessment Commission’s consideration of the project closed on 18 April and its decision to approve the mine was posted on 26 April. Of 325 submissions received a week ago, 284 or more than 87%, objected. Many raised substantial gaps in the assessment and consideration of the impacts of the mine on the remaining Wollar community, Aboriginal heritage and biodiversity.
Bev Smiles, spokesperson for Wollar Progress Association said, “The Commission’s decision to approve this mine after the barest possible timeframe for consideration is frankly devastating. They have completely ignored the key issues raised on the negative social impacts.”
“Not only have they signed the death warrant for Wollar and its surrounding community, but they have failed to give acquisition rights to affected property owners that rely on the village. They will strand us beside this mine that has ruined our lives and leave us with nothing. There is no social justice in this decision.”
“Despite many submissions raising concerns that the impacts on Wollar community had not been properly considered, and that if the mine were approved Peabody should be required to buy out all affected people, the Commission has failed to give these acquisition rights to most of the remaining members of the Wollar community.”
“The Commission has once again demonstrated its lack of independence by adopting the conditions of approval recommended by the Department of Planning.”
Lock the Gate Alliance Hunter regional coordinator Steve Phillips said, “We are reeling from the speed and callousness of this process and appealing to the State government to overhaul the planning process and give the public back some basic rights and protections.
“The Hunter region cannot cope with more damage, ruined villages, lost heritage and abused public trust. We will be ramping up our efforts to appeal to Planning Minister Anthony Roberts to restore balance in the Hunter and give the region a future.”