The large Hume coal mine planned for the Southern Tablelands near Berrima has been rejected by the Department of Planning as “not in the public interest”.
The Department of Planning and Environment has said it’s completed a comprehensive assessment of the Hume Coal Project and associated Berrima Rail Project and the Minister for Planning has referred the projects to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) for a public hearing.
“The Hume Coal Project, near Berrima in the Southern Highlands, proposes to extract up to 3.5 million tonnes of coal each year for 19 years and the associated Berrima Rail Project involves the development of a new rail spur and connecting loop,” it said in a release.
“The Department has undertaken a rigorous examination of the proposals, which included seeking independent expert advice on a range of issues, including groundwater, mine design, economics and noise.
“At this stage, based on the information available, the Department does not consider that the economic benefits of the projects outweigh the likely adverse impacts on the environment and community. The Department has therefore found that the projects are not in the public interest and should not be approved.
“The Department received a total of 12,666 submissions on the project, including over 5,000 submissions from the local area, of which 97 per cent were objections. Wingecarribee Shire Council objected to the project, while key government agencies including the Department of Industry – Lands and Water, the Environment Protection Authority and WaterNSW all raised concerns about impacts on groundwater and surface water. The Resources Regulator also said that the proposed mining method was untested and that the mine could be unsafe for workers.
“The Department considers there is currently considerable scientific uncertainty about the level of environmental damage to both groundwater and surface water resources.
“The predicted drawdown impacts on the ground water aquifer would be the most significant for any mining project that has ever been assessed in NSW.
“The IPC is likely to hold the public hearing early in 2019. It will seek the community’s input to inform its review of the projects. The IPC will provide its review report on the hearing within eight weeks of the hearing. All the information relied on in the Department’s assessment and its final report are available on the NSW Major Projects website at https://bit.ly/2rtU4Uh.”
Lock the Gate Alliance has welcomed news that the Department of Planning and Environment has recommended against approval of the proposed Hume Coal mine near Berrima in the Southern Highlands.
The proposed coal mine would be located in Sydney’s drinking water catchment and independent experts have identified major impacts on groundwater and community health.
Phil Laird from Lock the Gate Alliance said: “We want to heartily congratulate the community of the Southern Highlands for their extraordinary determination to protect their water resources and their community from such a damaging coal project.
“Unfortunately, it has required many years of hard work, numerous legal challenges and extensive research by independent experts to get this recommendation against a mine that never should have been proposed in the magnificent landscapes of the Southern Highlands in the first place.
“All credit to the many, many people of the Southern Highlands who have put their lives on hold and volunteered their time to expose this mine as a dangerous proposal that has no place in NSW.
“We’re now calling for the NSW Government to short cut yet more unnecessary processes and pressures on the local community, and instead take action now to protect the Southern Highlands and other key farming areas across the state.
“This recommendation by the Department today underscores just how damaging coal mining is to our water resources and our communities, and warrants urgent action on other risky mining projects including the Bylong and Shenhua coal mines and the Narrabri CSG project.”