The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) has issued draft development consent for the Wallarah 2 Coal Project.
The 78 conditions of consent echo the Department’s concern for the security of the Central Coast’s water supply.
It has conceded that subsidence, caused by the Wallarah 2 coal project, would be massive, and would have an adverse impact on the water catchment, causing loss of drinking water.
Under the draft conditions of consent, the Wallarah 2 coal project must provide compensatory water supply to any owner of privately owned land whose water supply is adversely and directly impacted (other than a negligible impact) as a result of the development.
The compensatory water supply measures must provide an alternative long-term supply of water that is equivalent, in quality and volume, to the loss attributed to the development.
Equivalent water supply must be provided, at least on an interim basis, within 24 hours of the loss being identified.
Prior to the approval of any Extraction Plan that authorises extraction of Longwall 6N, the applicant must, in consultation with Central Coast Council and DPI Water, develop a Central Coast Water Supply Compensatory Arrangement to compensate for the measured losses of water to the Central Coast Water Supply caused by underground coalmining on the site until the cessation of mining.
Australian Coal Alliance Campaign Director, Mr Alan Hayes, said the compensatory water supply provisions would be impossible to achieve, except at enormous cost by the applicant, which makes the project unviable.
“It would cost millions upon millions of dollars to try and achieve such a scenario with still no real guarantee of an adequate water supply,” Mr Hayes said.
“We don’t have the luxury of a second water catchment on the Central Coast.
“The project was never viable and certainly this puts the nail in their coffin.
“You cannot put the water supply of 330,000 people at risk, just so the South Korean Government can have a supply of coal for power generation,” he said.
The draft conditions of consent also put the burden of all subsidence damage with the mining company.
The M1 Motorway, Mardi to Mangrove Creek Dam Pipeline, Main Northern Railway and the electricity transmission lines and towers must remain safe and serviceable.
Any loss of serviceability must be fully compensated, based on the conditions that accompanied the Department’s draft consent.
No longer is the Mine Subsidence Board responsible for damage to subsidence affected homes.
Wallarah 2 would be fully responsible for costs, including any compensation, to privately-owned residences, including built features, improvements, including farm dams, swimming pools, tennis courts, roads, tracks and fences.
“Just like the compensatory water agreement, the cost will be astronomical and certainly makes any consideration to move forward unrealistic,” said Alan Hayes.
‘It’s doubtful that the PAC, when it goes to review, will change their position.
“In 2014, they would not approve the mine because of uncertainty in being able to guarantee the security of the water supply.
“Wallarah 2’s own EIS confirms there will be a negative impact.
“It’s time that the State Government put its own citizens first and put a stop to this whole affair, and put in place the legislation they promised to protect the water catchment.”
The state’s independent Planning Assessment Commission will now review the Department’s assessment report which finds that the proposed underground mine near Wyong could be approved but with the extensive 78 conditions recommended.
Those conditions include some addressing the Central Coast’s water resources.
A public hearing has been scheduled to be held at the Wyong Golf Club, 319 Pacific Hwy, Wyong, on Wednesday, April 5, from 9:00am.
Dr Oliver Holm, Planning’s Executive Director of Resource Assessments and Compliance, said the Department has carefully considered the revised proposal along with the Commission’s first review of the original proposal in 2014, especially recommendations regarding water and subsidence.
“We support the Commission’s recommendations and have now strengthened the conditions in our current assessment,” Dr Holm said.
“This is in direct response to the Commission’s review and the community’s feedback during the public exhibition period.
“New conditions recommended to the Commission by the Department include intensive and comprehensive monitoring of water resources, as well as independent audits of subsidence, surface water and groundwater.
“The company should also be required to closely monitor subsidence and be prepared with Trigger Action Response Plans for the proposed mine’s longwalls.
“There are also a suite of conditions to manage air quality, noise, impacts to landscape views, biodiversity and Aboriginal heritage.
“While the updated proposal changed the way the company plans to transport coal from the mine site, the main elements of the original 2012 application remain the same.
“The Department continues to support the project’s potential to create 300 operational jobs, 450 construction jobs, to stimulate the regional Central Coast economy, and to provide $5 million worth of contributions to Central Coast Council for projects benefitting the local community and environment,” he said.
More than 680 submissions were received by the Department during the public exhibition period in 2016.
Mr David Harris, NSW Member for Wyong, said: “I think the Commission needs to say no again.
“We have now had three lots of draft determinations and it hasn’t got through, and the sticking point is that two of the conditions say there cannot be any harm to the water table, and the applicant’s own report says it will harm the water table.”
Mr Harris said he moved a motion in the NSW Legislative Assembly on March 9 calling on the State Government to “just say no to Wallarah 2 and not keep putting conditions on it”.
He said he would be seeking to make a verbal submission at the Commission’s public hearing.
Written submissions can be made to the Commission until 5:00pm on Wednesday, April 12.
Mar 3, 2017
Oliver Holm, NSW Department of Planning and Environment
Mar 5, 2017
Alan Hayes, Australian Coal Alliance
Mar 9, 2017
David Harris, member for Wyong
Mar 9, 2017
Jorge Ven Den Brande, NSW Planning Assessment Commission
Jackie Pearson, journalist