Climate change, equity cited as reasons to reject Kepco's Bylong mine application

Famer Phill Kennedy at a protest in Sydney in July. Photo: Battle for Bylong/FB

The campaigning efforts of local farmers and environmentalists were rewarded on September 18 when the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) rejected South Korean company Kepco’s bid to build a new thermal coalmine in the Bylong Valley, near Mudgee, in central NSW.

Kepco wanted to extract up to 120 million tonnes of coal over 25 years.

The IPC cited unacceptable impacts on groundwater, heritage and agriculture as reasons for the rejection.

This is the second case in which greenhouse gas emissions have been cited as part of the reason .

In February, the NSW Land and Environment Court rejected the Rocky Hill coalmine, near Gloucester, in part because of the impact it would have on global climate change.

The IPC said the Bylong mine proposal was “not in the public interest because it is contrary to the principles of ecologically sustainable development — namely intergenerational equity.” 

It added that while the “predicted economic benefits would accrue to the present generation”, the long-term environmental, heritage and agricultural “costs” would be borne by future generations.

An IPC decision cannot  be appealed. Kepco would have to reapply with a new project under its existing operating exploration licence.

Lock the Gate spokesperson George Woods said: “This is an incredible outcome for local farmers, like Phill Kennedy, who have worked tirelessly to protect this incredible place from mining."

Woods said the decision was significant because “it is the largest thermal coalmine that has been refused in Australia. 

“In a week when school children are preparing to strike from school for their future, we warmly welcome the IPC’s recognition that this coalmine would be contrary to the principle of intergenerational equity.

“It’s the wrong place for a coal mine, and this is the wrong time for NSW to be opening up new areas for coal exploitation as the world shifts away from coal in a bid to halt global warming.”

Farmer Phill Kennedy said he was “over the moon” with the decision. He told The Land on September 18: “This valley is hugely productive and stunningly beautiful.

“Thanks to this sensible decision, it’s going to keep producing food and wool for NSW for a long time to come.”

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