NSW Premier Kristina Keneally announced that the Labor government would block a proposed open-cut coalmine near Scone in the Upper Hunter Valley on May 14.
The decision puts an end to the Bickham coal project, which would have mined coal for the next 25 years, threatening to contaminate the Pages River and other water sources for local farmland. The decision also permanently bans any open-cut coal mines at the Bickham site.
Keneally said: “This mine is simply not compatible with the unique rural characteristics of this locality, including the horse-breeding industry.
“It is also clear from the [independent Planning Assessment Commission] report that potential impacts on local water resources would far outweigh any benefits of proceeding with the project.”
The decision contrasts sharply with the state government’s track record in other areas threatened by coal industry expansion. For example, it is trying to overturn a March 14 Supreme Court decision banning coal exploration in Caroona until mining companies had met their obligations to local landholders.
On hearing the news about Bickham, Caroona Coal Action Group president Sandy Blomfield hoped the decision would provide a basis to stop further mine proposals.
"Certainly, in this case, commonsense has prevailed and ... [I] look forward to the water issues being addressed in all future mining proposals”, Blomfield said.