Notoriously poorly behaved corporate citizen Whitehaven is trying to slip past proper process and community consultation to get the go-ahead for more coal exploration near Narrabri.
Whitehaven, along with its joint partners, recently lobbed an application for two exploration licences over 3,700 hectares in an area known as “Gorman North” - one of the new land parcels Deputy Premier John Barilaro last year nominated in his “Strategic Statement on Coal” as potentially available for coal exploration via the Strategic Release process, which involves preliminary environmental assessment and community consultation.
However, Whitehaven’s application has raised fears that, unlike similar plans to open new areas of land for coal exploration near Rylstone, new exploration licences may be granted in the Narrabri area without community consultation.
“Gorman North was supposed to only be released for coal exploration after going through a preliminary issues assessment and public consultation process to determine if release is appropriate, after which any release would be subject to competitive tender. That has not yet happened here,” said Boggabri farmer Sally Hunter.
“There are at least 250 landholders in the Gorman North area, and as far as I’m aware, the NSW Government has not consulted with any of these residents.
“Whitehaven is trying to pull a swifty and pressure the NSW Government into granting it a coal exploration licence without consulting the community.
“If Whitehaven is granted these licences, the NSW Berejiklian Government will be treating the people of the north west like second class citizens - denying them the proper process for considering impacts of coal exploration on water, bushland and communities.
“Whitehaven is also a repeat offender with a rap sheet a mile long (see dossier here) for crimes committed in the north west. This company should be stripped of its licence to operate, not given a fast-tracked concession to search for more coal.”
Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said Whitehaven was likely spooked by the community backlash to coal exploration around the Rylstone area, as well as sustained opposition to its Vickery project plans in the north west.
“All across NSW, communities are standing up against coal mining companies and coal-friendly politicians,” she said.
“People living within and near the Gorman North area should be able to expect the same opportunity for public consultation and proper process as those who live near Rylstone.
“NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro needs to confirm there will be no double standard for the release of new coal exploration areas and that these areas will not be preemptively handed to Whitehaven without north-west communities having a chance to have their say."