A PLANNING panel deciding the fate of the controversial Bylong underground and open cut coal mine will hear on Wednesday that NSW has the regulations necessary to refuse the mine because of climate change.
Lock the Gate will tell the Independent Planning Commission hearing in Mudgee that 2007 legislation requires NSW consent authorities to consider downstream emissions where the coal is burnt when deciding if a mine application should go ahead.
Lock the Gate spokesperson Georgina Woods will tell the commission an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in October warned coal burning needed to be phased out world-wide by 2050, and in countries like Australia and South Korea by 2030, to avoid catastrophic impacts of climate change.
The IPCC report was released on the same day the Department of Planning found the Korean Government-backed KEPCO Bylong mine was “approvable”, with coal mining for export to South Korea until 2044 if approved.
Ms Woods will criticise the Department of Planning for failing to provide the commission with analysis about the climate change implications of the Bylong mine and the global push to phase out coal.
“This is crucial information for the commission. Whatever KEPCO’s claims about the likelihood that there will be demand for coal from this mine, NSW Government policy states that the government “endorses the Paris Agreement and will take action that is consitent with the level of effort to achieve Australia’s commitments to the Paris Agreement”, Ms Woods will tell the planning commission.
“The commission’s role here is not to decide the likelihood of competing claims about future coal demand coming to pass, but to assess this project against NSW Government law and policy.
“To act consistently with NSW policy that endorses the Paris Agreement means accepting analysis that meeting the Paris Agreement targets means dramatic reduction in coal use in Australia’s key customer countries, notably Korea and Japan.”
More than 60 witnesses will give evidence at the commission hearing today, including KEPCO representatives Jongseop Lee and Bill Vatovec, NSW Farmers Association representative Courtney Dillon, Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders spokesperson Cameron Collins, former historic Bylong property Tarwyn Park owner Peter Andrews, Doctors for the Environment spokesperson Kathleen Wild and Mudgee Chamber of Commerce spokesperson Andrew Palmer.
The commission will consider more than 360 written submissions from the public before making its decision. KEPCO proposes to mine 6.5 million tonnes of coal per year for 25 years, with royalties of more than $270 million and hundreds of jobs. The amended proposal follows a scathing Planning Assessment Commission assessment in 2017 which warned the Department of Planning it would have to carefully and cautiously consider the project’s significant risks and unanswered questions before making a final decision.
The Bylong coal mine is one of three new coal mine proposals in the Hunter and Central Coast regions, with the Wallarah 2 mine facing a legal challenge in the Land and Environment Court from November 12, and the Rocky Hill coking coal mine at Gloucester subject to an appeal after it was refused.
Climate Council head Professor Tim Flannery said the three greenfield mine proposals “doesn’t surprise me, it dismays me”.
“The science is very clear. We have to leave the thermal coal in the ground if we’re going to avoid dangerous climate change,” he said.