Planning and Assessment Commission rejects Drayton South Coal Project

14/01/2019 Posted by admin

ANGLO American has failed yet again to convince the Planning and Assessment (PAC) to approve its Drayton South Coal Project.

This means the project, located between Singleton and Muswellbrook, has now been rejected by PAC on four occasions – two reviews and two determinations.

The new open cut was expected to extract 75 million tonnes of coal over a 15-year period using existing infrastructure of Anglo’s now closed Drayton mine.

No doubt the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association (HTBA) will be asking the question of the NSW Government: will they allow Anglo to submit another proposal for their site that neighbours two of the world’s most prominent studs, Coolmore and Godolphin (Darley).

On each of the four rejections, PAC stated the reason it would not approve the new open cut mine was dueto its impact on the studs and the entire Upper Hunter Critical Industry Cluster (equine).

The two studs have spent millions fighting this project since it was first proposed in 2012.

They have been supported in their campaign by HTBA and associated entities.

At the most recent PAC public hearing, held in Muswellbrook last year, Godolphin general managerHenry Plumtre said his board wastired of seeing monies being spent fighting this project and there was a real threat Godoplhin, along with Coolmore, would exit the Hunter.

Darley already owns a substantial breeding establishment in Victoria.

In addition to the threat of them leaving the Hunter, other potential entrants have also chosen not to invest in the region due to the threat posed by mine expansion.

And PAC, in the latest determination, agrees there is a real risk Coolmore and Godolphin would seek to protect their reputation and business interests by leaving the Hunter Valley

PAC determination review public hearing in Muswellbrook 2016

The latest PAC determination, chaired by Paul Forward, states – in its final report –the project is likely to create significant negative impacts on the preferred landuses identified as animal boarding (a new PAC termfor horse agistment and breeding) or training establishments.

PAC identifies the vast difference between the two neighbouring landuses open cut mining and horse breeder, saying this difference makes direct comparisons challenging.

“However, the commission finds that the established thoroughbred equine operations are sustainable in the long term and are a key to the equine Critical Industry Cluster (CIC),” the report says.

“Whereas the project has a finite lifespan of 15 years and would not be central to the sustainability of mining as a preferred landuse.

“The commission considers that this is an important and relevant distinction in evaluating the public benefits of the development.”

PAC was also concerned about the increase of dust and or a reduction of air quality and the risks its posed to equine health.

In fact it rejected Anglo’s claim there would be no adverse impact from dust on equine health.

Anglo has repeatedly used the Edinglasssie thoroughbred stud which is located on land near and owned by BHP Billiton’s MtArthur open cut as an example of a successful equine operation adjacent to a mine.

However PAC says it does not rely on this information regarding Edinglassie’s operationin its determination of the application.

“We welcome the PAC’s decision to refuse Anglo American’s latest proposal for a coal mine on the Drayton South site. We are very grateful to the PAC for its thorough analysis and comprehensive refusal of this mine. “ Dr Cameron Collins, President Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association said

“After four PAC’s finding against this mine, all recommending or making findings of refusal, the NSW Government needs to put an end to community uncertainty and rule out any possibility of entertaining another application for a coal mine on this site.” Dr Collins said

“Whilst the PAC has refused Anglo’s latest Drayton South application, there is nothing to stop Anglo American, or any future owner of the site, from lodging yet another application. The process is endless and unnecessary. The Government, with a stroke of a pen, can end the uncertainty by putting a SEPP on this site to prohibit future mining.” Dr Collins said

“We are very relieved at the PAC’s findings and rejection of a mine on the Drayton South site. We are also very grateful to the many thousands of people who have supported our campaign and work.

“We now need certainty for our industry to invest in its future. We call on the new Berejiklian Government to end the land use conflict in the Hunter, put a SEPP on the Drayton South site and act immediately to permanently protect the Hunter’s multi-billion dollar thoroughbred breeding industry – by establishing appropriate buffers so that all industries in the region can confidently grow and prosper. This will give certainty to all parties, and allow the region to grow in a diversified and sustainable manner.There are no more excuses for inaction.” Dr Collins said

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