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Maules Creek mine clearing fears while plans and conditions fail

Conservationists and local landholders around the Maules Creek area are crying foul that Whitehaven coal is planning to resume clearing the Leard State Forest while a long-overdue plan to preserve vanishing biodiversity in Leard State Forest is two years overdue and Government agencies fail to hold the company to its commitments.

Already, hundreds of hectares of the Leard State Forest, describe by the Office of Environment and Heritage as “irreplaceable” has been cleared to make way for two coal mines: Whitehaven’s Maules Creek and Idemitsu’s Boggabri mine.

Both companies were required by the conditions of their approval to collaborate on a 'Leard Forest mining precinct regional biodiversity strategy' due for completion two years ago, which was supposed to ameliorate the loss of biodiversity caused by clearing for the mines.

But the biodiversity strategy has not been completed, and conservationists fear clearing in the critically endangered and highly valuable forest could begin again as early as this Monday.

Ecologist Phil Spark said, “It’s just as we feared: we have lost so much of the beautiful Leard forest, and the few controls that were imposed on Whitehaven by the Government to mitigate the long-term consequences of losing so much good quality critically endangered woodland and so much wildlife habitat are not being implemented.

“The NSW government has to stop this craven failure to uphold the very minimal protections that exist for biodiversity that is cleared for coal mining. Rob Stokes and Mark Speakman need to put a halt to any further clearing of Leard forest until Whitehaven and Idemitsu have complied with the conditions of their approval.”

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