Battle for Berrima welcomed the Independent Planning Commission's (IPC) cautious response towards the Hume Coal mine proposal, following the release of its preliminary report in late May.
The Independent Planning Commission identified 14 key environmental and social issues upon which it says it can't currently make a determination. It now seeks further information from Hume Coal and various Government departments.
The IPC considers that there are fundamental issues around the proponent's mining method and its safety, ground and surface water, climate change, agriculture, and social impacts.
The 14 points of concern to the commission are:
• Mining Method and Safety;
• Surface water;
• Underground Emplacement;
• Greenhouse Gas Emissions;
• Visual Impacts;
• Historic Heritage;
• Social Impact;
• Suitability of the Site;
• Statutory Environmental Planning Instruments; and
• Public Interest
Since the IPC's announcement that it could not make a determination, Battle for Berrima has met with the head of the Department of Planning and Environment, the Chief of Staff of the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes - along with his chief policy advisor - to ascertain what the next steps will be to reach a final determination.
Unfortunately, due to the NSW election held in May, the process has taken longer than expected. With various new people appointed to new roles in the Dept. of Planning and Environment, and other departments involved in the assessment process, there have been delays while they familiarise themselves with the issues.
Indications are that the time frame for a final determination on Hume Coal may be extended until early 2020.
The Southern Highlands' community's frustration with the process and its delays is tangible. Battle For Berrima has articulated this to Government very clearly.
As always, Battle For Berrima remains committed to its fight for the Southern Highlands and will continue to monitor developments.
We'll update you on the situation as it progresses and continue to advocate strongly against this proposal.
Ultimately, we are of the belief that the project will eventually be found by the Commission to not be in the public interest.