Lock the Gate Alliance has welcomed the Independent Planning Commission’s cautious approach towards the deeply unpopular Hume Coal mine proposal following the release of its preliminary report.
LTGA spokesperson Georgina Woods said she believed the greenfield project, proposed to be built inside Sydney’s drinking water catchment, would eventually be found by the Commission to be not in the public interest.
“We're glad to see the IPC taking a cautious and rigorous approach, especially considering the disastrous impact this mine is expected to have on water resources,” Ms Woods said.
“The NSW IPC has a tough job. The NSW Government has allowed a new proposal to be considered in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“The Department of Planning said likely impacts on a significant aquifer could be ‘the most significant for any mining project that has ever been assessed in NSW’.
The NSW IPC identified 14 key environmental and social issues that it cannot currently make a finding on based on the material currently before it. This includes fundamental issues around the mining method and safety, ground and surface water, climate change, agriculture, and social impacts.
“The Southern Highlands is a highly-contested place to build a new coal mine. The NSW IPC acknowledges in its report that residents have clearly communicated that the mine has no social licence,” Ms Woods said.
“97% of the 12,666 submissions on this project to the NSW Department of Planning were objections. This clearly demonstrates that the community agrees with the Department of Planning’s assessment which found ‘that the project is not in the public interest and should not be approved’.
“The Land and Environment Court ruled against a similar metallurgical coal mine proposal near Gloucester earlier this year. While this judgement offers hope to Southern Highlands residents that Hume Coal’s mine will ultimately be refused, only legislated no-go zones can provide certainty.
“The towns and villages of the Southern Highlands, and our precious water catchments, must not be sacrificed to dig up coal and export it overseas.”