The argument by Chinese miner Yancoal that a modification they propose to the approval of their Ashton South East Coal Project is minor was rejected at hearing in Singleton by the NSW Environment Defenders Office (EDO).
Yancoal has sought changes to the approval conditions, on their yet to be developed open cut coal mine near Camberwell and the Department of Planning and Environment has recommended the acceptance of a number of what they say are minor changes to the conditions.
However the EDO in their statement to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) hearing into the modifications said the application by Ashton was neither minor nor administrative.
“The application seeks, among other things, to make substantive and significant changes to the acquisition rights of certain landowners on the basis that the current condition of approval are purportedly ‘unlawful,” the EDO stated.
Approval for the mine was granted by the Land and Environment Court in April 2015 with the significant condition that Wendy Bowman’s property ‘Rosedale’ must be acquired before commencement of the mine. Mrs Bowman has refused and continues to refuse to allow Yancoal access to her property. She told the IPC the mine threatened the water security of the lower Hunter.
There is a five year limit on the mine’s approval which may be extended by up to two years.
The EDO argue that the modification is designed to allow for an undefined period of time and potentially in perpetuity for the approval to exist – which is foreign to standard planning laws principles.
It would also put undue pressure on Mrs Bowman who looks forward to the day the approval lapses.