THE state's planning department has been slammed as "impotent", after requesting a mining company to lodge retrospective applications for two pipelines that have already constructed.
Whitehaven Coal will have to submit two development modifications for pipelines that transfer groundwater from farms to its nearby Maules Creek mine, despite the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) dismissing the need on multiple occasions.
Lock the Gate spokesperson Georgina Woods said the two modification applications were an admission the company did not have approval for construction in the first place.
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"We are frankly disgusted that no one in the impotent NSW government has held this rogue mining company to account for repeated breaches of its approval," Ms Woods said.
"Instead of responding to the community's mounting anger at the actions of this rogue company, the department appears to be preparing to reverse-engineer approval for these illegal pipelines."
A DPIE spokesperson said in response to concerns raised by the community, it investigated the pipelines and issued a "show cause notice" to Whitehaven for a potential breach of the environmental planning laws.
"The department will consider the appropriate regulatory action as part of its investigation," they said.
A Whitehaven spokesperson said no preliminary obstacles were raised during the planning and construction phases by DPIE or other government agencies.
"DPIE has since advised Whitehaven that, to address any technical legal uncertainty raised by some third-parties over its status, it would be appropriate to pursue a 'minimal impact modification'," they said.
"That is now underway and is expected to be finalised shortly."
The Leader understands the pipelines will still be used while the modifications are being processed.