The Lock the Gate Alliance has slammed approval of a large and controversial open cut coal mine on the Liverpool Plains by the NSW Planning and Assessment Commission.
The Watermark coal mine by Chinese mining company Shenhua will mine 10 million tonnes per annum of coal near Breeza and adjacent to some of the most productive agricultural soils in the state. It is fiercely opposed by the local farming community, who have previously turned out in large numbers to protest against the proposal.
Lock the Gate National Coordinator, Phil Laird said, “This is the final straw for the credibility of New South Wales mining law. This mine will jeopardise the rich farmlands on the Breeza Plain, and the productive Namoi Alluvial Aquifer, upon which our food-growing farming communities depend.
“The abject failure of this state to make laws that protect farmland and important groundwater from mining is now on ugly display: the approval of this mine is a damning indictment on the Baird government’s failure to fulfil its promise to protect land and water from coal mining.
“Already, hundreds of properties in the Liverpool Plains, Gunnedah and Narrabri Shire are owned by coal mining companies, including nearly 20,000ha owned by Shenhua. With this approval, Shenhua may be swallow up even more properties, including productive black soils farms that should be feeding the nation.”
"This time four years ago the Government went to last NSW election promising to protect farmland on the plains with no-go zones, which they failed to deliver. This mine should have been stopped at the first hurdle, never should have gone through planning process.
“The unfinished business of mining reform is going to haunt this Government throughout the eight weeks leading up to the State Election and beyond if they do not deliver action now to stop this madness.”