Plans to build a mosque in Buchanan in the Hunter Valley, NSW, were approved 6–4 after nearly two hours of emotional speeches at a meeting of Cessnock Council on July 20. The Newcastle Muslim Association applied to build a 390 square-metre place of worship and funeral home on 23 hectares at Buchanan, south of Maitland. But the 12 residents who spoke against the mosque said it is too big, will create traffic congestion and noise and is inappropriate in a rural area. Some also said they were concerned about the safety of their children travelling to school and feared increased crime.
The Mt Thorley-Warkworth "final void" is too expensive to fill in. Early this month mining giant Rio Tinto sold its mothballed Blair Athol coalmine to a tiny ASX-listed company called TerraCom for $1. Rio Tinto had been trying to sell the mine since it closed in 2012.
The New South Wales government's nominally independent Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) has approved a fourth coal loader for the port of Newcastle. Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) initially applied to build the loader in 2012 at the height of the resources boom. Since then coal prices have crashed, caused by the fact that renewable energy is now a preferred source of “new build” power plants across the globe and fewer new coal-fired power plants are being built than was forecast.
The devastating effects of the coal industry on public health in the NSW Hunter Valley were highlighted in a public forum at Glebe Town Hall on February 23. The forum was organised by the Balmain Defenders of Land, Water, Future and Climate Change, and Climate Change Balmain-Rozelle.
Kiama Municipal Council will sign an open letter to the NSW government calling for no new coal-fired power stations. Greenpeace, who initiated the letter campaign, says the NSW government plans to approve two new coal power stations in Lithgow and the Hunter Valley. If built, they would spew over 20 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution into the atmosphere each year. Kiama Deputy Mayor, and Greens candidate for Gilmore, Ben van der Wijngaart moved the resolution, which was carried only after Mayor Sandra McCarthy, an independent, used her casting vote in favour.