A COMMUNITY appeal against the proposed $600million Warkworth open-cut coalmine expansion will be heard over 10 days in August and September.
The Land and Environment Court has confirmed August 20 for opening submissions in the case instigated by the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association.
The association’s action is against New South Wales Planning Minister Brad Hazzard and the mining company Warkworth Mining.
The government’s planning and assessment commission approved the project in February and directed that a “voluntary” planning agreement with Singleton Council be finalised by August 6.
Singleton councillors have repeatedly opposed the expansion, rejected plans to close Wallaby Scrub Road, Bulga, to facilitate the pit and refused the coal company’s initial $11million planning agreement offer.
Under sufferance, councillors agreed to negotiate a voluntary agreement and employed former Sydney Olympic Games chief Rod McGeoch to lead the negotiations team.
The court has confirmed that the hearing will be divided into two five-day sessions, the first beginning on August 20 and the second on September 10.
The second day will include a site inspection and the fourth and fifth days will involve dust, noise, health and wellbeing experts.
The September sitting will involve social impact, economic and ecological experts before up to two days of closing submissions.
Progress association spokesman John Krey said the appeal would be based on the merits of the open-cut and the fact the community’s concerns, and those of community-engaged consultants, have not been properly considered.
Mr Krey said he expected parts of the case to be heard in Singleton courthouse and hoped some community members, who objected to the planning assessment commission, could give evidence.
Several Bulga area residents have complained for years that as current Warkworth operations breached development conditions the expansion should not go ahead until long-standing issues were resolved.