Lithgow Mayor Stephen Lesslie expressed disappointment at the decision of the NSW Court of Appeal to overturn the recent PAC decision of 2015 supporting the Springvale Mine Extension Project.
Lithgow mining workers will again face uncertain times as a Centennial Coal works through options after the ruling handed down by the NSW Court of Appeal finding the previous PAC process was unlawful.
Whilst the news would be welcomed by environmentalists, the decision means that once again families find their livelihoods are a bargaining chip for political interests and lobby groups.
Lithgow City Council has stood united with Centennial and called on State and Federal Governments to act on
this issue to ensure jobs in the region.
“This is not just a Lithgow issue, it is much bigger than that, it is a State issue. 15% of the State’s baseload power comes from this region, and any interruption to this means the lights will go out.”, Cr Lesslie Said.
“Full time employment opportunities are decreasing every year in Regional NSW, increasing disadvantage for both regional families and specifically those in the Lithgow LGA.” said Cr Stephen Lesslie.
“While the Court’s decision is obviously disappointing, we have prepared for this outcome. A range of options have been identified and we will now proceed to implement these options to seek to ensure Springvale can continue operating without disruption”, stated Katie Brassil, Centennial Coal’s Executive GM External Affairs.
In December 2015, 4Nature Inc., represented by the NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), filed a Summons (Judicial Review) in the Land and Environment Court (LEC), seeking to challenge Springvale’s (October 2015) State significant development consent granted by the PAC.
The grounds for the review were about whether the PAC complied with clause 10(1) of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Sydney Drinking Water Catchment) 2011, which required it to be satisfied that the proposed development would have a neutral or beneficial effect on water quality (the NorBE test) in the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment.
In September 2016 the LEC rejected 4Nature Inc’s legal challenge and dismissed its proceedings.
This decision confirmed the ability of the Springvale mine (an existing mine) to continue to operate. In October 2016 4Nature Inc. launched an appeal with the NSW Court of Appeal from the LEC’s (September 2016) judgment that validated Springvale’s consent.
“Our immediate focus will be ensuring Springvale can continue to operate, thereby securing the livelihood of our local community while also continuing to meet the State’s electricity needs”, Katie Brassil concluded.
“This issue is beyond Local Government’s Legislative ability and I hope that State and Federal Governments can respond to the issues facing Centennial Coal, which has been an outstanding corporate citizen supporting employees and charitable organisations for many years.” continued Cr Lesslie.
Labor and Green energy spokesmen have had recent visits to the region, and Mayor Lesslie is now calling on the current government’s Energy minister to come to the region and see the issue first hand.