Lock the Gate Alliance says a decision by the Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, to delay a decision on two coal mines near Boggabri in north-west NSW, including the Whitehaven Maules Creek Coal Project, has exposed gaping holes in the NSW planning process which approved the mines.
The time frame for making a federal decision on the mines has been delayed until the 30th April.
"We welcome the wise decision by Tony Burke today to defer a decision on the two proposed coal mines in Leard State Forest," said Carmel Flint, spokesperson for Lock the Gate Alliance.
"There was strong evidence to suggest that the information provided by the companies on which he had to base his decision was incorrect and grossly inadequate.
"His decision contrasts sharply with the approach of the NSW Government - which has been to rush through approval for these mines no matter what the cost to the environment and the community or how inadequate the science.
"The NSW Government is now left looking incredibly exposed - the planning process did not even identify that the proposed offsets for the mine were mapped incorrectly by the companies.
"In fact, the NSW planning process is so weak that there is no independent study done of the proposed mine offsets - it is left to the miners to hire consultants to do their own assessments.
"This is particularly worrying in relation to the Maules Ck mine where there have been political donations made by the proponent to the National Party and where ex-National Party politicians are holding key roles such as chairman of the board.
"Instead of attacking the Federal Minister, the NSW Government should now urgently commence an investigation as to whether it has approved the two mines based on false and misleading information, and to review the process it has for accepting mining consultants information" she said.