The NSW Government’s Planning Department and its processes must be overhauled in light of its failure to account for cumulative health, social, and environmental impacts of new coal mining projects in the Hunter Valley, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
The Alliance’s call follows alarming findings from a new report by The Australia Institute which show there has been a doubling of coal production in the Valley since 2000, and 23 coal expansion projects are now under consideration.
Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said the cumulative health, social, and environmental costs of this expansion had never been properly accounted for in the planning process and there was an urgent need for an overhaul.
“For too long the NSW Government has been approving large open cut coal mine expansions near population centres with little regard to the impact of these mines, which are damaging the health of families and communities through heavy air pollution beyond national standards,” she said.
“It’s ten years since the NSW Government promised a cumulative impact methodology for mine assessments and the situation is now critical. It is time to stop the neglect and sacrifice of this region and its people.
“Communities have pleaded with the Berejiklian Government for action to limit open cut mining given we know it is among the chief causes of the region’s air pollution but the government is blinded by dollars and the political influence of the mining industry.
“There’s a proposal being considered right now to double the size of Mount Pleasant, a large open cut coal mine on the outskirts of Muswellbrook, so the need for cumulative impact assessment and a pause on further approvals is critical.
“We simply can’t afford to keep hurting the Hunter like this.”