The NSW Planning Assessment Commission has just rejected the application to extend the Coalpac mines near Lithgow. The Australia Institute, alongside several community groups, has been involved in the long fight against these mines in the environmentally sensitive area adjacent to the Blue Mountains World Heritage area.
In September 2014 the Australia Institute made a written submission and Rod Campbell gave an in-person presentation to the NSW Planning and Assessment Commission. He showed that advocates for the mines, Energy Australia, were telling NSW Planning that the mines would help them expand electricity supply and reduce prices, while they were telling the federal government they wanted to reduce supply and increase prices because of the Renewable Energy Target.
Telling the federal government one thing and NSW Planning the opposite did not wash well with the Commission:
“The Commission is not convinced that this small coal resource proposed to be extracted is particularly significant or necessary to the electricity market…. The economic, short term employment generation and royalties from the extensions are outweighed by the environmental costs and impacts of the extensions.”
Until the Warkworth case, no mine had been defeated on economic grounds. This week we’ve seen two more.
The mining industry is still free to make exaggerated claims in public, but the courts and decision-makers are applying much greater scrutiny to their figures. Congratulations to Lithgow Environment Group and all the other community groups in the Lithgow and Cullen Bullen area who have fought so hard for this win over so many years.
P.S. If you want to read an analysis of the effectiveness of our work and why it’s upsetting the NSW Minerals Council you should check out this front page story from the Saturday Paper.