The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has imposed a range of strict noise, dust and heritage conditions on Whitehaven Coal as part of its approval of the company’s Vickery Coal Project near Gunnedah, which is expected to provide employment for 250 people and more than $400 million in revenue and contributions for the NSW community through the State Government.
“The Department balanced environmental, heritage and economic issues, as well as social considerations such as the fact many of the region’s families rely on mining for an income, and found the project is in the public interest and should be approved,” a Department spokesperson said.
The Department exhibited the environmental impact statement for the project early last year and received 23 submissions from local residents and Aboriginal groups, who raised concerns about noise, dust, water and traffic.
“We looked at these issues carefully and have imposed strict conditions so affected landowners can have the mine pay for measures to reduce impacts on their home, such as installing insulation or air-conditioning,” the spokesperson said.
“While we’re confident the conditions imposed on the mine will reduce impacts, there is a condition in the approval that will give landowners who remain affected the option of selling their property to the mine on favourable terms, if they decide to move at any point over the life of the mine. The Department’s assessment found that the mine would not result in any significant impacts on agriculture and water resources in the area because the mine will be located away from the highly productive black soils and underground water sources linked to the Namoi River.
According to the media release by the Department, the conditions imposed on the NSW-based coal miner also include a range of measures to reduce traffic impacts, including building a bridge over the Kamilaroi Highway so that coal trucks would no longer need to cross the highway; maintenance payments to the local council for the mine to use local roads; and a ban on coal trucks using local roads at night, which was originally proposed by the mining company.
Whitehaven Coal has also struck an agreement with both Narrabri and Gunnedah councils which will see the miner pay $7.5 million to fund community services and local infrastructure.
“The mine will also have to consult with the local Aboriginal community to put together a heritage management plan to protect significant Aboriginal heritage sites near the project that have been identified by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage,” the spokesperson said