AT least 40 jobs hangin the balance as Boral’s plan to double the output of Berrima Colliery hasbeen refused in the Land and Environment Court.
The company wasinitially given permission by the Planning and Assessment Commission to increaseoutput at the mine.
Wingecarribee Council also supported the mine expansion until it found out about heavy metals beingdischarged from the mine into Wingecarribee River that were allegedly aboveaccepted levels.
Southern HighlandsCoal Action Group employed the services of the NSW Environmental Defender’sOffice (EDO) to lodge a merit appeal which was heard in the Land andEnvironment Court.
The court, onWednesday, upheld the appeal.
Berrima CollieryOperations manager, Stuart Hutchings, said the company would now assess its options.
“The decision is verydisappointing and places the future of the colliery in jeopardy,” he said.
“Additionally, thisdecision could place the viability of other local businesses at risk, includingBerrima Cement Works.
Berrima Collierycommenced operating in the 1870’s and directly employs 40 people.
It is the primarysource of energy for the nearby Berrima Cement Works, which directly employs 130people and has been a large contributor to the local community.
Boral’s application was refused by the courton a number of grounds, including traffic noise and dust; inadequate andincomplete data; fundamental issues of groundwater; river quality and ecologicallysustainable development
SHCAG coordinator Tim Frostsaid it the decision should also affect Hume Coal’s plan to establish a coalmine in the shire.
“The judgement of the court is particularlyimportant because it reinforces the position, where there is a threat ofserious or unsustainable environmental damage, that the precautionary principlewill be activated,” he said.
“Applying this precautionary principle tocoal and coal seam gas mining in the Southern Highlands this means that HumeCoal must now prove that they will not damage the aquifer.
“As the court has determined that mining atMedway has clearly damaged the aquifer at that location, then this has veryclear application to Hume Coal’s proposed activity to long wall mine under theSouthern Highlands.
“Hume Coal’s proposed long wall coal miningactivities will also clearly damage the aquifer and this must be prevented.
“Intergenerational equity demands that wedo not allow uncontrolled mining to damage our children’s heritage.
“The residents of Medway will also be veryrelieved to know that their living conditions will now not be subjected to thethreat of the passage of a coal truck every six minutes.
“Another very good outcome is that theWingecarribee Shire LEP was instrumental in informing the court as to thewishes of the local community.”
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