The multi-million-dollar Bylong Valley coal mine has been refused development consent by an independent planning panel, citing concerns about “long-lasting environmental, agricultural and heritage impacts”.
- Construction of the Bylong Valley coal project was supposed to start this year
- It was referred to NSW’s independent planning panel, which rejected the proposal
- The company behind the project could still challenge the rejection in court
- The groundwater impacts would be unacceptable
- No evidence to support the (Kepco’s) claim that the impacted Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land (BSAL) can be rehabilitated post-mining to BSAL-equivalent
- Given the expected level of disturbance to the existing natural landscape, the commission did not consider that a recreated landscape post-mining would retain the same aesthetic, scenic, heritage and natural values; and
- Greenhouse gas aspects of the project remain problematic
Farmers relieved ‘war’ is over for nowGraham Tanner, a farmer whose 800 acres borders the Kepco site, said he is “ecstatic and shell-shocked” by the decision. “This is good farming area, it’s been a seven-year battle but it looks like we won the war,” he said.
PHOTO: Farmer Graham “Tag” Tanner and Warwick Pearse from the Bylong Protection Society. (ABC News: Liv Casben)Mr Tanner said there was already insufficient water in the valley for farming. “The water that the mine would take would suck the valley dry.” But the NSW Minerals Council has slammed the decision by the “faceless” commission as an “utter failure of the NSW planning system”. In a statement, CEO Stephen Galilee said it represented a lost opportunity for the local region, in particular the communities of Kandos and Rylstone, where investment and jobs are desperately needed. “This refusal comes after more than seven years of assessment, including repeated changes to the assessment processes and requirements during this period, highlighting just how difficult and complicated the current NSW planning system has become,” he said. Kepco, which claims it has spent $700 million developing the project and buying land in the area, could still challenge the judgment in court and is reading through the 146-page decision. A spokesperson said the company was “disappointed with the decision, and is reviewing the statement of reasons”. Kepco has been working on the project since 2010 and construction was originally proposed to commence this year.
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