The Planning Assessment Commission for the Mt Thorley-Warkworth Continuation Project (Warkworth Project) has requested further submissions relating to a proposal to change the State Environmental Planning Policy (mining, petroleum production and extractive industries) (Mining SEPP). The current Mining SEPP requires consent authorities to give the “significance” of a resource the greatest weight in their assessment of mining projects. The proposed amendment would revert to the earlier approach of a balance of social, environmental and economic factors.
The Australia Institute has been involved in debate over the Warkworth Project since two of our economists presented expert evidence in the NSW Land and Environment Court (LEC) case which resulted in the project’s approval being overturned. We have since made numerous submissions and presented at all public hearings. Our opinion throughout our involvement has been that the economic benefits of the project have been overstated by Rio Tinto and its economists and that costs have been consistently downplayed. Overall, we believe the economic benefits do not outweigh the significant environmental and social impacts.