Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Reserves proposed as Coal Mine offsets

“Biodiversity Offsets are meant to deliver conservation outcomes that would not otherwise occur.  The Coalpac open-cut proposal north of Lithgow has, however, proposed existing publicly owned and protected land as biodiversity offsets,” Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness revealed.

“The Coalpac open-cut proposal is located in an area that the NPWS is seeking to reserve as a state conservation area and a Planning Assessment Commission has recommended the mine be refused development consent.  Since that recommendation, Coalpac has varied its proposal twice.  Negotiations have continued behind closed doors between government departments and Coalpac,” Mr Muir said.

“A list of proposed offsets published last week on the Department of Planning’s website includes land at ‘Wolgan, Hartley Vale and Hassan’s Walls near Lithgow that are currently held by either Lithgow City Council or NSW Trade and Investment – Crown Lands with Lithgow City Council as Trustee.’  The land at Wolgan is the Mayinygu Marragu Aboriginal Place (formerly known as Blackfellows Hand Cave reserve)”, said Mr Muir.

“These public lands are Clayton’s offsets.  The lands are not at risk and contain very few of the values which will be destroyed by the Coalpac proposal if it proceeds”, Mr Muir said. 

“Coalpac’s open-cut proposal is the last remnant of a unique pagoda landscape which contains poorly reserved Tablelands Grassy Woodlands.  This pagoda landscape just can’t be offset.  Neither Hassans Walls nor Mayinygu Marragu Aboriginal Place have any records for Critically Endangered Box Gum Grassy Woodland, Eucalyptus cannonii, Persoonia marginata, Broad-headed Snake, Squirrel Glider, and many of the other Threatened Species or Endangered Ecological Communities that will be destroyed by Coalpac”, said Mr Muir.

“One of the main concerns outlined in the Planning Assessment Commission review was the inadequacy of the offset proposal.  Coalpac proposed an offset of fragmented areas requiring extensive rehabilitation work for a single area of high-quality habitat proposed for reservation.  The additional offset proposals published last week add very little and fail to address the Commission’s concerns regarding offsets for this destructive mining proposal”, Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)