The NSW Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC) has released a scathing review of the controversial Bylong coal proposal that would directly open cut rich farmland in the Hunter, saying the assessment of it is incomplete and acknowledging the severity of the risks it poses.
The Commission’s conclusion has prompted Lock the Gate Alliance to call on the NSW Premier to immediately step in to stop the mine, and ensure that this unique area with its outstanding heritage values, important farmland and productive alluvial groundwater is protected.
The PAC states in its summary that there is "uncertainty regarding the availability of water resources to satisfy the potential needs for the project and while sustaining other land uses; risks associated with proposed agricultural impact mitigation strategies; the potential for greater heritage significance than previously assessed for the Tarwyn Park and Iron Tank properties; limited scope for addressing the social impacts of the project and incomplete information to enable accurate estimation of its benefits, costs and risk."
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “The Planning Assessment Commission is scathing in its assessment of this mine and has clearly found that it would permanently alter the exceptional scenic value of the Bylong Valley.
“The proposed mine east of Mudgee puts at risk beautiful heritage properties with a rich horse-breeding history. The Tarwyn Park property is the home of Natural Sequence Farming, a land restoration program pioneered by Peter and Stuart Andrews on this site.
“The NSW Government must now stop this mine proposal from going any further - it is clearly out of the question that this productive and magnificent landscape would be ruined for the short term cash grab of a foreign mining company.
“It’s clear that the Bylong Valley is no place for a coal mine, and we’re calling for the Premier to step in now and protect it out of respect for the outstanding, state significant heritage values it holds and the high value agricultural land it contains” she said.
The Commission has been critical and expressed scepticism about the claims made by the mining company about the adequacy of water availability, the impact of the project on the alluvial aquifer and the importance of the agricultural land it proposes to cut open. It also expressed concern that the social impacts have not been considered.
A summary of the Commission’s review is available here: http://www.pac.nsw.gov.au/resources/pac/media/files/pac/projects/2017/02/bylong-coal-project/review-report/bylong-coal-project--fact-sheet.pdf
The Project will now be sent back to the Department of Planning and Environment for further assessment.