Aboriginal community say Ashton Coal damaging significant site

A traditional Aboriginal group in the New South Wales Hunter Valley have begun legal action against Ashton Coal for allegedly damaging a significant site.

The mining company is accused of damaging one of the Hunter region’s most significant sites at its Camberwell site, according to the Newcastle Herald.

The case, which has been taken to the Land and Environment Court, follows a separate hearing in June, when a NSW Office of Environment and Heritage officer admitted there had been mine subsidence in the area, including the culturally significant site.

On behalf of the traditional owners, the Wonnara people, a summons was launched in the court by Robert Lester last month.

In it, they allege Ashton Coal of breaching the National Parks and Wildlife Act by “causing harm” to the site without having obtained an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit.

The Office of Environment and Heritage has confirmed it began an investigation.

The mining company was in court over attempts to obtain an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit over part of the Camberwell site on the same day the summons was lodged with the court.

In January Ashton Coal applied for permission to modify its 2002 consent to mine in the region and received what it deemed a refusal by the department.

It then made an appeal in April and the Office of Environment and Heritage urged the court to refuse, causing the department to later tell the court an agreement may never reached by the conflicting parties.

On 7 July a judge upheld an appeal by the Wonnara people that sufficient consultation had not been carried out.

The permit action will return to court on 9 August while the summons matter will be heard on Friday.

Ashton has not commented on the issues.

In April, arguments between two local indigenous groups were played out in the media, with accusations that those supporting the mining operation were not entitled to comment.

Image: The ABC



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