The hearing on the Maules Ck Coal Mine scheduled for today has been adjourned following news that Whitehaven Coal have approached the NSW Government to have their contested management plan for the project varied and thus render the legal proceedings redundant.
This means that the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment must soon make a decision on whether to let Whitehaven change the rules and clear Leard Forest in spring when young native animals are likely to be killed in their nests.
"The adjournment follows news that instead of waiting for a court decision on the legality of the Biodiversity Management Plan, Whitehaven have decided to amend their plan entirely so that they can bulldoze Leard forest in spring" said Phil Laird for the Maules Ck Community Council.
"This places the welfare of the threatened animals of Leard Forest squarely in the hands of the new Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment, and the relevant Ministers - Prue Goward and Rob Stokes.
"It's a massive test for the NSW Government - are they capable of standing up for the environment against the shifting demands and production timetable of a mining giant?
"Or will they approve a new Biodiversity Management Plan, allow the slaughter of young native animals in their nests, and prevent our case from ever being heard in court?
"If approved, this new plan would be yet another example of how coal mining has corrupted due process in NSW - the miner breaks the rules, the community pings them for it, and then the government changes the rules to suit the miners.
"The NSW Government needs to finally find the courage to enforce basic regulations on coal mining and stop moving the goal posts to suit the mining industry" he said.
The Maules Creek Community Council sought an interim injunction in the NSW Land & Environment Court in June, challenging the Biodiversity Management Plan under which Whitehaven had commenced clearing in winter.
The injunction proceedings resulted in Whitehaven being forced to stop clearing until a full hearing on the case, which was scheduled to commence today.