STAKEHOLDERS of the Tarrawonga coalmine extension now await the project’s determination from the state’s Planning Assessment Commission (PAC), after a meeting was held to consider it last week.
The extension request was received by the PAC in mid-November and it is expected to take many more months before a determination is made.
Due to the level of public interest in the application, the PAC held a meeting at Boggabri to hear public views on the Department of Planning’s assessment report and recommendation for approval.
About 40 community members, mining company representatives and business groups attended the meeting at the Boggabri Golf Club, where visiting PAC officials fielded the opinions on, and concerns of, the possible development.
The Tarrawonga mine, about 15km east of Boggabri, is owned and operated by regional mining giant Whitehaven Coal, which recently gained approval from the PAC for the development of its Maules Creek coalmine.
Community groups are concerned about both mines’ expansion into the nearby Leard State Forest and have been openly against the projects for the last year.
Phil Laird of the Maules Creek Community Council registered to speak at last week’s public meeting and said
there was still a way to go before the extension gained approval.
He said four speakers were in favour of the mine while eight others were against it.
“The Gunnedah and Narrabri councils seemed quite supportive but were worried about the cumulative impacts,” Mr Laird said.
He said it seemed the PAC had hoped speakers would comment on the Department of Planning’s individual consent comments, such as noise restrictions, rather than environmental issues.
“The PAC needs to harmonise the approval across the region,” Mr Laird said.
Unlike the last two North West mining approvals of the Maules Creek and Idemitsu’s Boggabri Coal projects, which now await federal approval, the Tarrawonga project is subject to appeal in the Land and Environment Court.
Mr Laird said the Maules Creek Community Council wouldn’t rule out lodging a claim to the court if it was necessary.