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Communities appeal to Ombudsman over Planning and mining complaints

The Lock the Gate Alliance is today submitting a formal complaint to the New South Wales Ombudsman over the conduct of the Department of Planning in assessing mining applications. 

A four page log of claims was given to the Department of Planning and Environment last month detailing a systemic failure to uphold matters of public interest in its close dealings with mining projects and their proponents. Seven representatives of coal affected communities met with the Secretary of the Department five weeks ago, but no action has been taken on any of the matters that were the subject of the complaint.

Among the complainants is Bulga resident John Krey, whose community is fighting the expansion of the Warkworth mine and Singleton beef farmer, Janet Fenwick.

Mr Krey said, “Our community is being plotted against by the Department of Planning and Rio Tinto: there is simply no other way to put it. We have won two court cases. We have the law, the public interest and natural justice on our side, but the Department of Planning have consistently undermined us. We call on the Ombudsman to fully investigate the sordid history of the Warkworth mine expansion project and bring the Department to account.”

Singleton beef farmer Janet Fenwick said, “We would like the Ombudsman to look into the failure of the Department of Planning to restore water to our farm that was lost to the Wambo coal mine. It’s been ten years since they agreed to compensate us for our lost creek, and they’ve taken no action.

Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator Phil Laird said, “The complaints we’re lodging with the Ombudsman today are evidence of a culture in the Department of Planning and Environment that privileges the demands of coal mining companies over the needs of the public.

“We gave the Department the opportunity to respond to some very reasonable complaints, but they have, again, failed us. Now we’re appealing to the Ombudsman to investigate the Department and their intimate relationships with coal mining companies, and give mining-affected communities some justice.”

The letter will be submitted in person at 2pm this afternoon to the NSW Ombudsman by representatives of Lock the Gate and mining affected communities. 

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