The Independent Planning Commission has signed off on changes to the project approval at the Boggabri Coal coal site in New South Wales.
Boggabri has sought to modify five elements of the existing project approval for the operation in the state’s northwest.
The company currently has permission to extract up to 8.6 million tonnes of run-of-mine coal annually until December 2033.
It is also able to operate a coal train loading facility, handling and preparation plant and rail loop and spur line.
The modification application seeks to secure biodiversity offsets through alternative mechanisms and extend the timeframe for securing the offsets until February 2020.
It also aims to use an approved stockpile area for its product coal and undertake drilling and exploration activities within the approved disturbance area – but not within the designated native vegetation corridor.
The application also pursues authorisation for the transportation of small tonnages of coal by road for testing and marketing purposes and realigning a small section of the project boundary with the adjoining Tarrawonga coal mine.
The Department of Planning and Environment referred the matter to the commission for determination due to a “high level of public interest in the application.”
Three commissioners, Snow Barlow (who is panel chair), Zada Lipman, and Ian Lavering, were appointed to scrutinise the application and make a determination.
The panel met with Boggabri and the department and held a public meeting in Boggabri in April to listen to the community’s views.
The community’s concerns centred around delays in securing biodiversity offsets, the impacts of drilling and exploration activities, the road transportation of coal and the assessment process.
After considering the evidence, the commission stated it has “determined that the modification can be approved, subject to the department’s proposed conditions [which] are designed to prevent, minimise and offset adverse environmental impacts and impacts on the community.”