Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Telegraph Attack on McFarlane Backfires

“Claims in today’s Daily Telegraph that the property owned by Brad Hazzard’s Chief of Staff overlooks the Coalpac open-cut mine proposal are wrong.  Ms Kath McFarlane’s property faces north away from the mine and overlooks a national park,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“The aerial photograph on pages 4 and 5 of today’s Telegraph reveals that Ms Katherine McFarlane owns ‘Rowans Hole’.  This property is on the other side of the Great Dividing Range to the Coalpac mine proposal and 100 metres lower than it.  Rowans Hole is in the Capertee Valley and surrounded on all sides by the Gardens of Stone National Park.  The Coalpac proposal is also separated from Ms McFarlane’s property by the Baal Bone Colliery.  The Coalpac proposal could have no possible impact on her property,” Mr Muir said.

“The decision earlier this month by the Department of Planning and Investment to recommend that development consent for the Coalpac proposal be refused is not some sort of bolt out of the blue as the Telegraph implies.  The Department’s recommendation concurs with a similar recommendation made by the Planning Assessment Commission last December,” he said.

“The reality is that Coalpac decided to withdraw its development application, rather than pursue it to a final determination by the Planning Assessment Commission.  Coalpac gave up the proposal on October 16th, so it was Coalpac, not the Department or the Commission, who made the decision to kill off this proposal”, Mr Muir said.

“The Coalpac open-cut mining proposal was chasing the last scraps of coal in an area that had been subjected to underground mining for 100 years.  It would have been a very long, skinny open-cut mining operation chasing coal out from hill slopes over many kilometres.  It was a high-impact dud of a proposal and this outcome should set a precedent to rule out similar mines in the future”, Mr Muir said. 

“The Gardens of Stone area that was to be mined is of high conservation value.  The area is part of an area identified by the National Parks and Wildlife Service as its next reservation priority.  It should now be reserved as a park”, said Mr Muir.

“In regard to the Mt Piper power plant, the mines owned by Centennial Coal can keep its turbines turning for decades. These mines were purpose built to meet electricity generation needs and will ensure security for coal mining jobs in Lithgow,” he said.

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

Note: the Colong Foundation has not met with either Ms McFarlane or Minister Hazzard in relation to the Coalpac proposal.