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Issue #1662      October 29, 2014

Maules Creek case continues

The proceedings that were scheduled for Friday October 11 in the Land and Environment Court have been held over to October 29 to set a hearing date.

The case was brought by local community group the Maules Creek Community Council in relation to consultation and planning approval processes associated with changes to Biodiversity Management Plans for the controversial Whitehaven Coal Mine in Leard State Forest near Narrabri in northwest NSW.

The disputed Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) was submitted by Whitehaven Coal to clear large sections of the Leard State Forest outside previously approved clearing times threatening endangered fauna species that were hibernating or breeding in the forest.

“There is no need for these changes,” said Maules Creek Community Council spokesperson Phil Laird.

“Whitehaven Coal have indicated that their open cut coal project is on schedule and we have no idea why they have sought these changes as the public is getting mixed messages.

“We believe media statements made by the company completely contradict its need for the revised plan and we are calling on Planning Minister Prue Goward to reject the new clearing timetable put before her department.

“The community and the environment must rely on these approvals and so should the company.

“The corrosive effect of this mine on politics and public administration in NSW has added up to numerous corruption allegations, inquiries and court convictions. In the end someone needs to hold the line and it shouldn’t be up to everyday people to enforce planning approvals to protect the environment when a company changes its mind.”

Meanwhile, the Lock the Gate Alliance has welcomed the sensible decision by the Planning and Assessment Commission to refuse consent for the Drayton South open cut coal mine in the Upper Hunter, as reported in the Daily Telegraph.

Lock the Gate NSW Coordinator, Georgina Woods, said, “Lock the Gate congratulates the Upper Hunter thoroughbred horse studs, industry and communities for their determination to protect their industry from this and other coal mines. It has been clear for some time that the horse studs could not co-exist with the Drayton South mine, and so we welcome the PAC’s sensible decision that the project was not, on balance, in the public interest.

“This decision is a welcome relief for the businesses and communities that were directly threatened by this mine, but the anguish of this protracted battle could have been avoided by upfront protection for areas that should always have been off-limits to coal mining.”

Next article – Whitlam on foreign policy

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