Peter Bray from Rising Tide has questioned the independence and make-up of the "independent expert panel" set up to assess the proposed coal export terminal in Newcastle, branding it a "coal-dependent export panel" designed to ignore climate change.
"The NSW government received more than 700 public submissions against this coal loader, the vast majority of which said that it should not be approved citing pollution grounds."
Bray thought it likely that the panel will ignore another key issue raised in most public submissions: opposition to more coalmining. "If this coal loader is approved, there will be a major expansion of coalmining operations in the Hunter Valley and the Gunnedah Basin, which will have a devastating impact on biodiversity, waterways, local communities and the global climate", he said.
"The coal combustion that the proposed loader involves would release about 270 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, indefinitely."
Bray pointed out that the "expert panel" did not include a climate change scientist. He also queried its independence, asking why several panelists happen to be consultants to the coalmining industry. "How likely are they to bite the hand that feeds them?", he asked. "This panel is nothing but a rubber stamp for an outrageous proposal to lift Newcastle's coal exports by more than 60 million tonnes per year."