The pristine country side of the small NSW town of Bylong which is under pressure from coal mining companies .
The pristine country side of the small NSW town of Bylong which is under pressure from coal mining companies .

Planning slammed over NSW coal mine delay

A PROPOSAL for a massive coal mine in the state's Central West - slated to deliver up to 650 jobs - is in limbo because a crucial certificate has lapsed amid bureaucratic delays.

The state's peak mining body launched an extraordinary attack on the NSW Department of Planning on Monday, saying it was on a "go-slow while jobs in our regions go begging".

It comes after South Korean company KEPCO was advised its proposal for a mine in the Bylong Valley would not move ahead because a "gateway certificate" lodged five years ago at the start of the assessment process had expired.

Gateway certificates are needed to certify that a project has an acceptable impact on the surrounding agricultural land.

The small NSW town of Bylong is the chosen site of the massive coal mine.
The small NSW town of Bylong is the chosen site of the massive coal mine.

 

"There are currently around 25 proposals for new mines or mine extensions in the NSW planning system, representing over $11 billion in potential investment and over 13,000 direct jobs," said NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee.

"Action is needed to ensure these projects don't face a bureaucratic quagmire that puts thousands of new jobs and billions in regional investment at risk."

Planning Minister Rob Stokes has vehemently denied any suggestion of a "go-slow" saying there is "absolutely no delay … in the assessment of State Significant projects in NSW".

"In fact, the government has more than halved the time taken to assess these projects since 2014 and we're currently looking at more ways that we can further reduce decision-making time frames," Mr Stokes said.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes. Picture: Brendan Esposito
Planning Minister Rob Stokes. Picture: Brendan Esposito

"At the same time, these projects can have lasting social and environmental impacts, so it's important that we take the time necessary to get these decisions right."

KEPCO has been waiting for final determination from the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) NSW for more than nine months after its state significant development application was referred back to the IPC in November.

It is understood the project is now the longest-running greenfield state significant development application in recent NSW history despite strong support from the Mid-Western Regional Council and the local community.

KEPCO's technical work has been rigorously examined, with more than 33 peer reviews commissioned to determine the project's veracity. Of these, 21 were commissioned by various government agencies.

In a statement released yesterday, the IPC said it had written to KEPCO last Thursday stating it could not approve the project "in the absence of a Gateway Certificate that is current at the time of the determination".

It has given Kepco until Friday to say whether it disputes the commission's view that it cannot approve the mine without a current certificate.

A KEPCO Bylong Australia spokesman said the company "disagrees with the preliminary view of the IPC in regard to the gateway certificate and will provide a comprehensive response to them for consideration".



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