The Bylong Community is once again celebrating after the NSW Land and Environment Court today dismissed an appeal brought by KEPCO against the Independent Planning Commission’s 2019 decision to reject the company’s planned coal mine.
The IPC originally rejected South Korean Government-owned KEPCO’s planned coal mine due to its “long-lasting environmental, agricultural and heritage impacts”, however KEPCO later appealed that decision.
The Bylong Valley Protection Alliance - a community group including farmers from the productive agricultural valley - then took the unusual step to defend the IPC’s decision in court in response to KEPCO’s appeal, after the IPC chose not to defend it.
Bizarrely, KEPCO persisted with its appeal, even after writing off the $700M value of the mine and at a time when the South Korean Government is embracing a “green new deal” and aggressively pursuing a policy of zero carbon emissions by 2050.
BVPA president Phillip Kennedy said locals were over the moon with the court’s decision.
“This court decision reaffirms what we locals always knew - that the IPC was right when it ruled the agricultural values of this valley are too precious to sacrifice for the sake of a temporary, destructive coal mine,” Mr Kennedy said.
“The soils in this valley are classed as the top 3.5 percent in the state. There’s no way it should ever have been made available for mining by the government.
“What we’d like to now see is the NSW Berejiklian and Barilaro Government permanently rule out mining in the Bylong Valley, and protect it for farming in perpetuity through legislation.
“We also want them to categorically rule out accepting any revised coal mine proposal from KEPCO in our valley.
“We farmers just want to be left alone - we don’t need handouts here, we just want the South Korean Government to take its coal mine out of the valley.
“This is a win for Australian agriculture during particularly uncertain times.
“We also call on KEPCO to sell the 30,000 acres it bought in the valley back to the people so this region can once again be the strong farming community it used to be.”
In a twist of fate, the Bylong community is due to hold a Christmas church service tomorrow evening that will double as a protest where locals will pray that “God and Gladys” force KEPCO from the valley permanently.
“That would be a terrific Christmas miracle,” said Mr Kennedy.
BVPA will have its costs paid by KEPCO.