Farmers critical of Bylong Coal’s application

NSW Farmers today reiterated its position that the mining application process in New South Wales was flawed and that environmental impact statements were nothing more than advocacy documents.

The association made these claims in its submission to the NSW Government on the Bylong Coal Project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Derek Schoen, the association’s president, questioned why corporate mining companies should be given “a second crack at bringing these EISs up to scratch for the government” while communities had to spend so much time and resources defending their neighbourhood and livelihoods.
“We need an urgent overhaul of the way these statements are produced to restore the public’s confidence in the mining application process,” he said.

“Jobs for regional areas are undeniably a positive but in cases like the KEPCO-owned Bylong Coal Project – you have to question the benefit.

“A lot of land has been bought up by KEPCO in anticipation of the mine and this has been done at the expense of the remaining community.

“The school has been effectively closed and even graves will be re-located under KEPCO’s proposal.

“Most concerning is the unacceptable risk this project poses to some of the state’s best agricultural land which lies within the project’s 1675.9ha boundary of Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land.

“KEPCO’s application relies heavily on its successful rehabilitation of this land but how can you successfully rehabilitate some of the best agricultural soils in this state? It is inexplicable that much of the credibility of the project is its reliance on the “creation” of prime farming country.

“We urge the NSW Government to fix the process and in the meantime at least better scrutinise KEPCO’s application to develop a coal mine before it’s too late for everyone who lives in this valley,” Mr Schoen said.

In its submission, NSW Farmers also questioned economic assumptions used by KEPCO in calculating the cost to agricultural. Many assumptions were based on data which was six years old.

“Governments at both a state and federal level recognise the structural decline of the mining industry and the huge potential that the agricultural industry plays in future prosperity of regional communities and this nation.

“If we are serious about empowering regional communities and the farming sector to be a part of this growth we need to vastly improve planning processes to protect our best agricultural land,” Mr Schoen concluded.

9 November 2015

Contact: Danica Leys

Phone: 1300 794 000

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