THE NSW Planning Minister has again knocked back the request of drought-stricken farmers for more time to read the 4000 page Vickery coal mine submission, calling it a “relatively short document”.
More than 70 people attend a community meeting in Boggabri, where the request was made several times to representatives from the Department of Planning and Environment.
Farmers say they are struggling to find the time to read and understand the 4000-page document, let alone write a response to it, while they are hand feeding cattle.
However, Planning Minister Anthony Roberts is “satisfied” everyone will have enough time to get through the “relatively short document”.
“The proposal is on exhibition for 42 day – longer than the 28-day statutory requirement,” his spokesman said.
“The proposal is for an extension of the existing mine. Given it is only an extension the EIS is a relatively short document and interested parties will have sufficient time to review.
“The planning panel will hold public hearings on the proposal within six weeks of it coming off exhibition – interested parties will have an opportunity to present to the panel.
“On this basis the minister is satisfied that interested parties will have sufficient time to make appropriate submissions regarding the proposal.”
Farmer Peter Wills said the government had recently granted 90-day extensions to the Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project and the Hume coal mine.
“While it may be classified as an extension, it’s more like a modification of a mine that only exists on paper,” he said.
“It’s extremely complicated, because we have to look at alongside a development that’s not there yet.”
Lock the Gate spokeswomen Georgina Woods said the current time constrains faced by farmers were “an unfortunate reality”.
“I can’t see how a few weeks will make or break the project for Whitehaven or the government,” she said.
“But it would make all the difference to the community being heard.”