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Mining giant urged to breathe new life into ghost town it destroyed instead of building temporary workers’ camp

Peabody should stop bulldozing houses in Wollar and renovate those that are left to help ease the region’s housing crisis instead of building a new 100 person temporary workers’ camp for its Wilpinjong coal mine, says a local community group.

The multinational mining company, which has approval to destroy at least five houses each year in the now mostly empty village of Wollar (see page 25 here)recently submitted a plan to the NSW Government for the workers camp.

Peabody bought up numerous houses and properties in the Wollar district, after forcing local people out with its Wilpinjong coal expansion plans.

Community Consultative Committee minutes (available here and here) show the mining giant has bulldozed at least 11 permanent houses in the village in the past two years. 

The workers’ camp application comes as the Mudgee region struggles with a housing crisis and long term residents are forced to leave the region, with rents soaring 45 percent in the last five years in part due to the expansion of coal mines in the area.

Peabody also owns an exploration licence to the north and east of Wollar covering 1668 ha which was granted last year and borders Goulburn River National Park.

Wollar Progress Association spokesperson Bev Smiles, who lives on the outskirts of Wollar, said, “Rather than building a temporary workers’ camp, Peabody should renovate and improve the existing permanent homes it owns and make them available to its workers and those struggling to find affordable accommodation.

“Bulldozing permanent housing in favour of temporary workers camps fractures and destroys rural communities. This is an unacceptable contribution to the housing crisis.

“We’re calling on Planning Minister Paul Scully to reject Peabody’s temporary workers’ camp plan. Instead, he should direct the company to firstly stop bulldozing permanent homes and instead construct permanent housing for its workforce and others who are facing housing insecurity in the Mudgee district.”

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW coordinator Nic Clyde said, “Peabody must not be permitted to exacerbate Mudgee’s housing crisis. This multinational coal corporation has more than enough cash to reverse the damage it’s done and restore the permanent housing stock in Wollar to a liveable standard.

“But we know Peabody won’t preserve Wollar out of charity. That’s why we’re calling on the NSW Government to step in and right this wrong.”


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