The plan includes setting up an independent expert panel to assess mining applications in the catchment, and to review and update calculations of current and future water losses “in line with the best available science”.
“We want to ensure we have every measure in place to protect Sydney’s water supply for generations to come,”
Mr Stokes said, adding the actions would improve existing assessment and monitoring while providing “greater certainty” for Sydney’s water supply and 5000 mining-related jobs in the Illawarra.
Other elements in the plan include improving access to and the transparency of environmental data and undertaking further research into mine closure planning to reduce potential long-term impacts.The government would also introduce a licensing regime to “properly account for any water losses”, Mr Stokes said.
“There should be no further mining approvals until water quantity and quality losses to date can be robustly determined with high scientific confidence,” Dr Turner said. “Currently that’s not possible.”WaterNSW, which described itself as the “catchment protector”, welcomed confirmation of the additional safeguards for Sydney’s reservoirs.
“WaterNSW’s long-held and public position is that longwall mining in particular, especially in key areas of the catchment,…poses an unacceptable risk to catchment water resources,” a spokesman said.
The Planning Department told Peabody Energy it could proceed with the extraction of coal from three new longwalls planned for its Metropolitan mine, two of which will go beneath Woronora reservoir.In a 2014 report on mining in the catchment, the NSW Chief Scientist found Sydney was alone among major cities in permitting such activities.
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