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NSW Government must give Bylong back to farmers following KEPCO’s latest legal loss

Bylong Valley locals and Lock the Gate Alliance say the NSW Berejiklian Government must facilitate the buy back of land KEPCO wanted to turn into a coal mine, after the company suffered yet another embarrassing defeat before the courts.

This morning, the South Korean corporation lost a second legal appeal over the Independent Planning Commission’s 2019 decision to reject its planned coal mine due to the impact it would have had on water, highly productive farming country, and the climate.

The loss comes as pressure from South Korea increases on KEPCO to abandon the ill-conceived  proposal, and after the Korea National Assembly Budget Office (NSBO) revealed farming groups had proposed purchasing the land owned by KEPCO.

The NSBO also revealed KEPCO had so far lost USD $405M in its pursuit to mine the fertile valley, and in January 2020 KEPCO's board marked down the value of its Bylong mining rights from $AUD642 million to zero in a report to the South Korean stock exchange.

Bylong Valley Protection Alliance spokesperson Phillip Kennedy said the NSW Government must act now to secure the land for farming families, so Bylong could once again be home to a thriving community.

“KEPCO’s foolish foray into Bylong has driven farmers and their families out. There is no one operating the local store any more - the valley is a shell of its former self," he said.

“This is the reality of what happens when a coal mining company tries to come to town.

“Despite all this, there is still a community here. We want the Berejiklian Government to extinguish the coal licence, just like it did with Shenhua on the Liverpool Plains, so Bylong can once again be the prosperous town it used to be.”

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Nic Clyde said the NSW Government needed to intervene to break a stalemate where farming interests were unable to buy back farmland from a company that was unable to develop a coal mine.

“If the NSW Government offered modest compensation to KEPCO in exchange for cancellation of their coal lease, then our understanding is that farmers would look after the rest,” he said.

“There is pressure from South Korea on KEPCO to sell its Bylong Valley properties before the corporation loses any more money.

“The NSW Government must take advantage of this. John Barilaro needs to do what he did with Shenhua, extinguish KEPCO’s coal licence, and permanently rule out coal mining in the Bylong Valley food bowl.

“As the Independent Planning Commission found, this agricultural powerhouse is simply too important to be sacrificed for a coal mine.”

KEPCO was ordered to pay all costs.

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