In a first for the company, Coal & Allied have engaged an independent consultant to prepare a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) on its two development applications covering the expansion of the Mount Thorley and Warkworth coal mines.
The SIA will form part of the company’s Environment Impact Assessment which is expected to be released next month into the controversial expansion plans which the company states are substantially the same as the plans that were rejected last year by the NSW Land and Environment Court.
That decision is currently on appeal in the NSW Supreme Court and that appeal judgment is due at any time.
EMM, planning and environment consultants, have been engaged by Coal and Allied to carry out the SIA with their work beginning this week with consultation sessions at Bulga Hall on Thursday (12-3pm) and in town at the Singleton Library meeting room on Thursday ( 5.00-8.00pm) and Friday (8.30am-12.30pm).
We will be holding consultation sessions and talking to residents, other stakeholders, businesses and any other interested parties to find out their views on the plans and what impacts they see from the development, said EMM senior planner Michael Askew.
“We want to gather the views and perspectives and the general community feeling about the project,” he said.
Mr Askew said SIAs were compulsory in Queensland for major project like this but in NSW it was a voluntary option for the proponents to undertake.
“This is first time the company has done a complete SIA using independent consultants,” he said.
Mr Askew said the development application for Mount Thorley involved that site taking the overburden from the Warkworth mine site after 2017.
Whereas the 700 hectare Warkworth development was as the company explained substantially the same as the one previously approved and then disapproved by the Land and Environment Court, he said.
He said his company would hold a second round of consultations where they hear the community’s opinions on how best to manage the impacts that arise from the development.
Commenting on the Supreme Court appeal a Coal & Allied spokesperson said we have consistently said that our chances of securing a timely outcome through the legal system are slim.
“Coal & Allied believes that the Land and Environment Court decision was flawed both legally and factually. While the legal errors are the subject of an appeal, there is no mechanism available for addressing the factual errors.” he said.
“Given the time taken for the appeal this is now unlikely to result in the rehearing of the merit appeal and the remaking of a judgment by the end of 2015, so we have acted now to secure the future of the mine beyond 2015.