Dr Peter Turner, NPA Mining Projects Science Officer
To the great relief of many, the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) has refused the proposed expansion of the Dendrobium coal mine, south west of Sydney. Approval would have continued the highly damaging mining introduced in 2013, from 2024 to 2048. The refusal constitutes a reality check for the mining company, and the Department of Planning. The Department had been the consent authority since a Commission of Inquiry approved the mine in 2001.
The mining would have triggered extensive fracturing of the overlying rock, high volume and in perpetuity water losses, drainage of water courses and swamps, water course contamination, loss of biodiverse habitat, landscape dislocation and destabilisation, loss of cultural heritage sites, greenhouse gas additions, and increased risk of extreme fire in and around the catchment.
Coming less than two years after the review of the IPC, the expectation was that the commissioners would approve the proposal. That it was refused underscores its dire nature. The NPA and its Illawarra, Macarthur and South Sydney branches contributed comprehensive presentations and submissions across a range of concerns. Those from Ann Brown and Gary Schoer, determined campaigners for many years, were outstanding.
A range of academic and professional experts objected, several engaged by the EDO on behalf of the Protect Our Water Alliance (POWA). Nic Clyde from Lock the Gate exposed telling contradictions in the proposal. There were many excellent contributions.
The refusal will be especially significant for Julie Sheppard and Dr Ann Young, who’ve been raising concerns for the Special Areas, particularly with respect to Dendrobium, for decades. The IPC commissioners visited the catchment over the mine, guided by mine company staff. In the final session of the public hearing, Julie provided a stark contrast in showing and explaining photographs of damage caused by the mine.
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