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Public hearing for United Wambo super mine goes ahead despite crucial lack of information

  • Lock the Gate accuses Department of Planning of bogus biodiversity offset “stitch-up” despite extinction risk
  • Opaque mine assessment process is failing to address cumulative impact

A public hearing for the latest large new coal mine proposed for the Hunter Valley will take place in Singleton today, despite crucial information not being available about the project’s cumulative impact, leading to accusations the Department of Planning is failing in its duty to the public

The United Wambo mine would open a deep new pit at the shuttered United mine and deepen the Wambo mine open cut.

Lock the Gate spokesperson, Georgina Woods, said, “With this new proposal, there would be 25 kilometres of nearly uninterrupted open cuts between Broke and Jerry’s Plains, straddling two major waterways and causing cumulative noise and air pollution.

“The cumulative damage being done to water and biodiversity and the cumulative noise and air pollution from mining is a disgrace but the public hearing is going to be held without the public having access to accurate and impartial information about the damage.”

Lock the Gate Alliance is accusing the Department of Planning of rubber-stamping a biodiversity offsetting stitch up to let the United Wambo mine clear over 200 hectares of a nationally critically endangered woodland despite warnings the ecological community could become extinct in a few decades.

The remnant proposed to be bulldozed for the new mine is in moderate to good condition, which means, according to the Commonwealth Government’s conservation advice it is “critical to the survival” of the community overall.

Lock the Gate estimates there has been cumulative clearing of over 3,000 hectares of the Central Hunter Valley Eucalypt Forest and Woodland for coal mines since 2007.

But last month the Department of Planning recommended the mine proceed because the proponent, a joint venture of Glencore and Peabody Australia, had an adequate offset package to compensate for the loss.

Lock the Gate says that the offset package being proposed by the company is incomplete, and up to a third of the area put forward by the company as compensatory habitat is their own mining pits with the promise they will be rehabilitated into the future.

“We have tried to get more information to understand why the Department of Planning is recommending this mine for approval without the assessment being complete but we’ve been stonewalled.

“The Hunter region has lost too much of its bushland already. When we clear their habitat, woodland birds and bats have nowhere to go. Promises of rehabilitation decades into the future cannot compensate for clearing wildlife habitat now.

“The Department of Planning is letting mining companies bulldoze the Hunter Valley into a silent and lifeless landscape. When it comes to critically endangered forests, we can’t afford to lose any more. This mine must not be allowed to proceed.”

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