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Newly discovered legless lizard has little standing in final IPC decision on climate-wrecking coal mine

The Independent Planning Commission looks set to pay little heed to the discovery of an entirely new species of legless lizard in the footprint of MACH Energy’s Mount Pleasant super greenhouse emitting coal expansion.

New documents published on the IPC website late last week, reveal that ecological surveys found the Hunter Valley Delma (Delma vescolineata) in the Mount Pleasant coal mine expansion area. The lizard was only officially listed as a new species last month.

The delma is so new to science that it has not yet been listed under the EPBC Act or the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act. It was determined to be a new species shortly after the release of the latest Federal State of the Environment report which revealed the shocking state of species decline and habitat loss across Australia.

The IPC has indicated it will incorporate the new information into its assessment of the expansion, but that it will not invite a new round of public comments. The Department of Planning has suggested the impacts of the mine on the species can be “offset”, despite there being no information on whether that is even remotely possible.

The IPC is expected to make a ruling on the expansion any day now, however in light of the Hunter Valley Delma discovery, Lock the Gate Alliance has written to the authority calling for the assessment to be re-opened to new public and expert submissions (letter attached).

Lock the Gate will also write to Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek alerting her to the discovery. 

Should the IPC approve the Mount Pleasant expansion, a final assessment would be required by the Federal Environment Department, and Ms Plibersek would make the ultimate decision whether to approve or reject the mine.

The Mount Pleasant coal expansion would also be the most polluting coal mine in terms of greenhouse gas emissions of any project assessed by the IPC since it was created - and would be responsible for 876 million tonnes of carbon emissions if built.

LTGA NSW spokesperson Nic Clyde said, “MACH’s Mount Pleasant expansion was already a climate-wrecking monstrosity - and now we know it also threatens an entirely new species of legless lizard.

“Coal mines are expanding at such a rate in NSW, they’re threatening new species before the government even has time to assess their conservation status.

“The Independent Planning Commission has signalled an intent to just ram a decision through on Mount Pleasant without any opportunity for community input - that would be an outrageous approach to this extraordinary scientific discovery.

“The IPC should not be determining the fate of the project this week without the proper opportunity for community input on this startling new information.

“The IPC has said the discovery of this entirely new species of lizard is ‘not significant new information’ - which is obviously just absurd. It doesn’t pass the pub test.

“Minister Plibersek has acknowledged the dire straits Australia’s wildlife is in, and we’re hoping she will follow up her words with action. 

“Here is a classic example of a newly discovered species whose habitat would be devastated if a coal mine is built, and where she has the final say on whether that coal mine goes ahead.

“Frankly, the terrifying emissions Mount Pleasant would produce should be enough to send MACH Energy packing. We’re hoping the discovery of the Hunter Valley Delma seals the fate of this horrendous proposal once and for all.”


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