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IPC caution on Dartbrook puts spotlight on air, social, and greenhouse impacts

Lock the Gate Alliance welcomes the decision by the Independent Planning Commission to refuse a five year extension of the notorious Dartbrook coal mine near Aberdeen in the Hunter Valley.

However, the Alliance remains concerned after the IPC approved the currently mothballed mine, owned by Australian Pacific Coal, to resume operations for the next three years, given the project’s dark and dangerous history. 

LTGA NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said the IPC had listened to strong opposition from the local community when rejecting the extension.

Locals had opposed the extension because of its air, noise and visual pollution, its impact on water resources and the local equine industry.

The Department of Planning had recommended approval of the extension in its advice to the IPC, despite the risks and  opposition from Upper Hunter Shire Council. The IPC’s statement of reasons noted a range of areas where it was dissatisfied with the Department’s assessment. 

“We’re pleased to see the IPC taking the impact of this mine extension seriously given the significant impacts it would have on the local community, strategic farmland and air quality” Ms Woods said.

“This detailed and considered decision by the IPC on the extension contrasts starkly with the Department of Planning’s cursory and superficial assessment which recommended approval.

“Too often, the department appears to be happy to sign off on coal mining projects without considering the disastrous impacts they will have.

“If it had been allowed to extend mining for another five years, the Dartbrook mine would have worsened the Hunter’s declining air quality, which is already impacting people’s health.”

Ms Woods said Lock the Gate remained concerned about operations resuming at the Dartbrook mine, where three fatalities had occurred prior to 2006 when the project was mothballed.

“There were also ongoing issues with gas, spontaneous combustion and flooding,” she said.

“We urge the Department to carefully monitor the situation at Dartbrook and take immediate action at the first sign of any danger.”

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