Outraged representatives for landholders locked in a fierce battle against a multinational miner have today (Tuesday April 16) delivered a letter to the NSW Independent Planning Commission, demanding the authority reject the proposed Bylong coal project.
The picturesque Bylong Valley is an agricultural powerhouse and is located on the western slopes of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
Importantly, if the IPC gives the go ahead to multinational proponent Kepco, it would be the first time coal mining would occur in the secluded valley.
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Nic Clyde said recent changes to the law meant those opposed to the mine had “no choice but to personally beg the chair of the NSW IPC to reject the project”.
“When Rob Stokes was last planning Minister, one of his final acts was to remove merits appeal rights for this mine assessment, meaning no one in NSW can challenge the final decision the IPC makes in the Land and Environment Court,” he said.
“Stripped of our legals rights, we need confidence that the IPC will consider all relevant policies and information on this project prior to making a decision.
“That’s why we’re here today, to seek a written assurance from the IPC on these matters of public interest.”
Mr Clyde said the group were demanding the IPC take into consideration the recent Rocky Hill judgement, which factored in that mine’s impact on global CO2 emissions.
“Burning the coal mined from Bylong would create five times the volume of greenhouse pollution that Rocky Hill would have created. And like Rocky Hill, there are environmental and social impacts from the Bylong coal project that are along grounds for its refusal,” he said.
Warwick Pearse, Secretary of the Bylong Valley Protection Alliance, said: “Approving this mine would be an appalling decision that would would demonstrate total disregard by the IPC for the need to combat climate change.
“Approval would also show total disregard for farmers in the valley.”
Mr Clyde said the IPC must also consider the Bylong project in light of the damage it would cause to the local aquifer, and the resulting impact on agricultural land.
“We are also pleading with the IPC to consider the project against a full assessment of impacts on Aboriginal cultural heritage,” he said.
“A beautiful valley with good water, productive farmland and some of the best soils in the country - adjacent to a World Heritage Area no less - shouldn’t need concerned citizens begging on its behalf for protection. But sadly, this is the state of planning law in NSW.
“The law may not protect this place, but we hope the people in power will.”
The letter presented to the IPC was endorsed by:
1. Bylong Valley Protection Alliance
2. Lock the Gate Alliance
3. NSW Nature Conservation Council
4. Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)
5. Doctors for the Environment Australia
6. Lane Cove Coal and Gas Watch
7. Climate Change Balmain-Rozelle
8. Stop Adani Coogee
9. Stop Adani Bondi
10. Eastern Suburbs Coal and Gas Watch
11. Sydney Knitting Nannas and Friends
12. Stop Adani Redfern
13. Climate Justice Collective
14. Earlwood Environment League
15. Oatley Flora and Fauna
The groups signed up to this letter to seek a clear and firm commitment that the IPC will:
Consider the Bylong coal project in the light of the Rocky Hill judgement and the global carbon budget for reaching the Paris climate agreement goals
Obtain an accurate appraisal of aquifer depletion the mine will cause and the effect of this depletion on the long-term viability of water supply works on iconic Tarwyn Park
Ensure it has complete information on all the matters for further assessment identified by the Commission in its review of this project, especially in relation to full assessment of impacts on Aboriginal cultural heritage.