MORE than 70 people packed the Emerald Hill Community Hall on Friday to have their questions answered about the proposed Whitehaven Coal Vickery expansion project.
Local farmers asked about a proposed rail spur, impacts on nearby rivers and water security during the at-times heated meeting.
Emerald Hill landholder Juliana McArthur said the meeting was crucial to the community.
“So far this has been the only group community consultation Emerald Hill has had,” Mrs McArthur said.
“Some of the residents are only going to be a few hundred metres away from the extension.
“They are going to be sitting ducks for the noise, the dust and the impacts on their water.
“We currently have a beautiful view of the Kelvin range but one day we will have a view of the mine – that’s why it is so important for us to be here to have our say.”
Mrs McArthur said there needed to be a better balance between agriculture and mining.
“It is difficult to compare the two industries when talking about positive impact on our country,” she said.
“Creation of jobs and things like that are great, but it’s got to be a balance.
“There also needs to be proper consultation with people who will be directly affected like many of us here at this meeting.”
Whitehaven Coal’s executive general manager of project delivery Brian Cole told the meeting the project had been independently reviewed.
“Every aspect of this project has been thoroughly reviewed and will eventually be peer-reviewed three times,” Mr Cole said.
“The project’s EIS [environmental impact statement] will eventually go before a committee where all of the submissions will be taken into consideration and a decision will be made.”
Mr Cole said locals could have confidence in the project’s planning.
“The community should be reassured about the fact we are proposing incremental changes to an already-approved project, on an area of land that has been mined on and off for over 30 years,” he said.
“There is no strategic agricultural land within the project area and Vickery won’t need new water allocations, so farmers in particular can have confidence about these aspects.”
Submissions to the Vickery EIS close later this month.
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