10 October, 2017

Crossbenchers must vote to maintain the purity of Sydney’s drinking water

The Nature Conservation Council is calling on crossbenchers in the NSW Legislative Council to reject amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act the government rushed through the NSW Legislative Assembly last night.

“The purity and health of Sydney’s drinking water now depends on the crossbenchers in the upper house standing with the ALP and the Greens to defend our water supplies,” NCC CEO Kate Smolski said.

“The government and Centennial Coal have fabricated a crisis that they are now exploiting to weaken environmental protections to benefit many of the state’s other big polluters. This is completely outrageous.

“The changes the government is ramming through parliament today will not just apply to Centennial’s Springvale coal mine, which is at the centre of this scandal.

“They will weaken water quality standards for all industries currently discharging into Sydney’s drinking water catchment. This must not be permitted.

The community expects the Berejiklian government to protect our drinking water supply and stop pandering to the coal companies. Her government’s green credentials are on the line.

"Under current laws, developments in Sydney’s drinking water catchment can be approved only if they will have a “neutral or beneficial” impact on water quality.

The Supreme Court ruled recently in relation to the Springvale mine expansion that approval authorities must use pre-development water quality as the baseline for the “neutral-or-beneficial” test, not water quality from an existing development, as the NSW Government had done.

The expansion of Centennial’s Springvale Coal Mine near Lithgow will generate millions more litres of polluted mine water the company plans to pump straight into the Coxs River, a major tributary of the Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s largest water storage, until the company builds a water treatment plant in about two years.

The court ruling made that planning approval for the Springvale mine expansion invalid.

The court was due to hear arguments early next week on what action the company should take.

That hearing is unlikely to occur, however, if the parliament passes the government’s Environmental Planning and Assessment Act amendments.

Tags

Planning and DevelopmentClimate and energyRivers and wetlandsCoal and gas

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