Landholders and community groups have reacted with joy and relief after the Independent Planning Commission announced it had refused approval to a controversial coal mine in the secluded Bylong Valley, and have congratulated the NSW Government on letting the independent process run its course.
The Commission handed down its decision today and cited unacceptable impacts on groundwater, strategic agricultural land, and the heritage values of the Bylong Valley, as well as the mine’s impact on climate change and intergenerational equity.
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “This is the right decision from the Commission and it shows New South Wales is getting its priorities right, safeguarding strategic farmland and water resources from destruction and depletion for coal mining.
“We warmly congratulate the NSW Government on allowing this independent process to proceed to protect our precious land and water for the long-term.
“The Bylong Valley is a very special place, not just for the farmers that produce wool, beef, and fodder there, but for people around the state that recognise its extraordinary beauty and rich cultural and natural heritage.
“In a week when school children are preparing to strike from school for their future, we warmly welcome the Independent Planning Commission’s recognition that this coal mine would be contrary to the principle of intergenerational equity.
“It was the wrong place for a coal mine, and this is the wrong time for NSW to be opening up new areas for coal exploitation as the world shifts away from coal in a bid to halt global warming."
Bylong Valley landholder and sheep farmer Phill Kennedy said, “We’re over the moon that the Commission has made the right decision. This valley is hugely productive and stunningly beautiful.
“Thanks to this sensible decision, It’s going to keep producing food and wool for New South Wales for a long time to come.
“The productivity of the valley will also greatly increase when properties come back into private hands again, rather than those of KEPCO.”
Warwick Pearse from Bylong Valley Protection Alliance said, “We applaud the IPC - this is a wonderful decision. Bylong Valley will be safe from mining, and continue to be the productive and beautiful valley it has been for many years.”
“It underlines the need to actually give legal protection for prime agricultural land. This farmland should never have been put at risk in the first place.”
The IPC’s Statement of Reasons for refusing the mine is available here: https://www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/resources/pac/media/files/pac/projects/2018/10/bylong-coal-project/determination/bylong-coal-project-ssd-6367--statement-of-reasons-for-decision.pdf