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O'Farrell should block four ICAC mines

The Lock The Gate Alliance has welcomed moves by NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell to review the Mt Penny open cut coal mine proposal, and called on him to block it and the other three coal mine projects shrouded by corruption.

Premier Barry O'Farrell announced this evening that his government would be asking Cascade Coal to resubmit a development application for the Mt Penny Coal Project to the Department of Planning, and that corruption findings from ICAC would be assessed in a “public interest test” of the project. The move opens the door for the O'Farrell government to kill off the project.

However, in addition to the Cascade Coal mining proposal at Mt Penny, ICAC is probing the Yarrawa Coal project by Loyal Coal (formerly Monaro Coal), the Doyles Creek project by NuCoal Resources, and the Glendon Brook project, also by Cascade Coal. Two of the projects, Yarrawa and Glendon Brook, are in advanced exploration stages, while the others – Mt Penny in the Bylong Valley and Doyles Creek at Jerrys Plains – have mine development plans awaiting State and Federal Government approval.

“These four coal mine projects stand to have calamitous impacts on people and the environment, if they are approved. They have been forced onto unsuspecting and unwilling local communities through a dodgy process that is now the subject of one of the most far-reaching investigations in ICAC history,” said Steve Phillips, Hunter regional coordinator for the Lock The Gate Alliance.

“The Mt Penny project alone would destroy 1500 hectares of land in a currently stunning area of cattle farms, horse studs, and rare forest.”

“At Doyles Creek, local residents have received threatening letters from the mining company demanding access to their property.”

“It is a scandal that these four coal mine projects have been allowed to proceed as far as they have. The O'Farrell Government has the power to kill off these projects, and it should do so. Barry O'Farrell owes it to the communities of the Bylong Valley, Jerrys Plains, Denman, and Singleton.”

“Delaying one of the projects until it faces a future public interest test is a move in the right direction, but it is not enough. Now that he has acknowledged the problem, O'Farrell needs to fix it. He should cancel the exploration leases of all four coal mine projects,” concluded Phillips.

The Lock The Gate Alliance has called on the Premier to release the advice he received from ICAC commissioner David Ipp.

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