9 October 2017

Coalition to change law to favour big polluters – again

The Nature Conservation Council condemns the NSW Coalition government’s plans to change the law to allow Centennial Coal to pollute Sydney’s drinking water supply to avert a non-existent crisis.

Energy and Utilities Minister Don Harwin today flagged the government’s intention to weaken laws that protect Sydney’s water supply.

His move is in response to the Supreme Court ruling in August the government had misapplied its own environmental protection laws by approving the expansion of Centennial’s Springvale Coal Mine near Lithgow.

Springvale provides feedstock to Mount Piper Power Station, which supplies up to 11 per cent of the state’s electricity.

The planned expansion would generate millions more litres of polluted mine water that the company planned to pump straight into the Coxs River, a major tributary of the Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s largest water storage.

The court ruling made that planning approval invalid, and the court is due to hear arguments early next week on what action the company should take.

“Rather than wait for the court’s decision, Minister Harwin has jumped the gun and jumped to the defence of a company that is the biggest polluter of Sydney’s water supply,” NCC CEO Kate Smolski said.

“Is the government proposing to waive environment controls for Springvale while the company builds a water purification plant, or does it plan to make it easier for all mining companies to pollute water supplies forever more?

"Mr Harwin needs to come clean about whether this big coal will be given even more freedom to pollute our water supplies.

“I think we will find when the matter has been dealt with by the court the fearmongering about a power crisis this summer and the limited coal supply for Mt Piper Power Station is baseless.

“This Coalition government has a shocking record of pandering to the interests of big coal.

“It changed planning laws a few years ago when the courts protected the village of Bulga in the Upper Hunter.

“That community is now being made unlivable by the expansion of the Warkworth and Mt Thorley open-cut coal mines made possible by changes the government rammed through.

“The community expects the government to protect our drinking water supply and stop pandering to the coal companies.”

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Planning and DevelopmentClimate and energy

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