Coal mine approved despite risk to Coast’s drinking water supply

Wallarah 2 underground coal mine has been granted conditional approval despite the 2011 promise that the mine would never go ahead

The Planning Assessment Commission has granted consent to the Wallarah 2 underground coal mine west of Wyong, subject to conditions, despite admitting that the location is sensitive to the Central Coast’s drinking water supply.
The decision follows the public meeting in Wyong on November 3, 2017.
According to a Statement of Facts (SOF) released to the public on January 17, the Commission has determined the proposal is in the public interest.
“The creation of 300 operational jobs and 450 construction jobs, along with the investment in the local area, would have significant local benefits for the community, provide investment in the Central Coast and contribute to the growth of the region,” the SOF read.
“The mine would also generate royalties for the State and the people of NSW, while providing a source of high quality thermal coal during the global transition to a decarbonised economy.
“Impacts and potential risks can be appropriately managed through the framework of rigorous controls and requirements in place to manage, mitigate, minimise, compensate and offset those impacts.
“In considering the suitability of the site for underground mining, the Commission acknowledged its location under a sensitive drinking water catchment, the strategic context of a growing population, an uncertain future global coal market along with the need to curb carbon emissions, and reliance on coal fired power stations,” the SOF read.
“The Commission heard and acknowledged strong calls for it to take a precautionary approach given the potential for impacts to the Central Coast’s drinking water supply catchment.
“The issue has been assessed in detail.
“Impacts were assessed to be small and acceptable, with no net impact on the availability of water for the Central Coast drinking water supply catchment during the life of the mine,” the report stated.
“The framework of conditions requires formal reviews of the subsidence predictions and impacts, adaptive management, compensatory water supply and ultimately, include requirements for mining to cease if this is deemed necessary.
“The Commission has found that these extensive conditions will provide a precautionary approach to protecting the drinking water supply catchment.
“The Commission has noted the impacts of subsidence on flood levels and emergency evacuation routes and the requirements for works to be undertaken to raise or relocate dwellings and relevant road levels.
“Conditions will also ensure air and noise emissions from the pit top facilities and coal transport process will be monitored and managed.
“In reaching this decision, the Commission considered carefully the concerns raised by the community, the Department of Planning and Environment’s assessment and recommendation for approval, and previous Planning Assessment Commission reviews of the project,” the SOF concluded.
The Australian Coal Alliance’s (ACA) Mr Allan Hayes, said the ACA was already preparing a legal challenge.
“The Central Coast community needs to know that we have a government that let them down and a government that has put their drinking water supply at risk, all to placate the machinations of a foreign government and a South Korean mining company,” Mr Hayes said.
“The PAC is risking the region’s entire water supply all so a coal company can send coal overseas.
“Wyong Coal needs to know that the community will not accept this.
“This fight is far from over,” Mr Hayes said.
Member for Wyong and Shadow Minister for the Central Coast, Mr David Harris, said that despite overwhelming opposition from the community, the PAC has approved this controversial project, which has been the subject of a long and bitter community campaign against it.
“Central Coast residents need to know that this determination means that 300 megalitres, or 120 Olympic sized swimming pools, of treated mine water waste will be released into the Central Coast water supply each year.
“This is a clear cut broken promise from the Liberal Government, which promised in 2011 to stop the mine going ahead, with then Opposition Leader, Barry O’Farrell, notoriously photographed wearing a “Water not Coal” T shirt with his Central Coast candidates.”
David Harris has called on the Premier to urgently address this issue and deliver on the Liberal’s promise to stop the mine.
The Commission’s full report into the mine can be viewed at the Planning Assessment Commission’s website by searching for Wallarah 2 Coal Project.
For a full analysis of the PAC report and community reaction, see the Wyong Regional Chronicle, edition 133, out on Tuesday, January 23.

Document, Jan 17
NSW Planning Assessment Commission Determination Wallarah 2 underground coal mine (SSD 4974) Summary Fact Sheet
Interview, Jan 17
Allan Hayes, Australian Coal Alliance
Media release, Jan 17
David Harris, Shadow Minister for the Central Coast
Dilon Luke, Journalist

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