A mine modification recommended for approval by the NSW Department of Planning today is the thin end of the wedge for mining to creep into the productive Upper Hunter Shire and the region’s strategic agricultural land, which has no protection from coal mining.
The recommendation, if approved by the Independent Planning Commission, would mean the Dartbrook coal mine would be reopened, extending mining into the Upper Hunter Shire and under land mapped as strategic agricultural land.
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said the recommendation was in direct contrast with what the local council and landholders wanted, and demonstrated the failure of planning law to achieve balance in the Hunter.
“The Hunter Valley has already lost considerable good quality farmland to coal mining. Upper Hunter Shire has so far remained relatively unscathed, but there are fears this proposal is the thin end of a fat wedge of coal mining pushing into the Shire.
“Our planning laws are frankly not up to the task and we need to make the strategic farmland of the region off-limits to coal mining once and for all."
Ms Woods said mining had ceased on the Dartbrook site in 2006, but the modification would allow the company, Australian Pacific Coal, to undertake new “bord and pillar mining.”
“The community sees this as a stalking horse for an open cut mine, which the company has previously said it wants. There’s nothing in the law that would prevent this site and the farmland that surrounds it from being open cut.” she said.
“Lock the Gate Alliance stands with the residents of Aberdeen and the Hunter Valley who want farmland to be off-limits to open cut coal mining.”