Coalpac has announced it will go into administration, in the
wake of news that the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) had rejected
applications for expansion to the Cullen Valley and Invincible coal mines.
The applications were rejected because of the risk to ‘pagoda’
geo-heritage formations including the Garden Of Stones in Ben Bullen State
Forest, part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area.
Energy Australia has also said that the “longer-term future”
of the local Mt Piper power station is uncertain as a result of the decision.
Coalpac CEO Ian Follington said the decision would cost the
area 150 jobs, and that the planning system was “a joke”.
“This state’s in one hell of a mess as far as the planning
system is concerned, it’s just a joke,” Follington told The
“It means we have to go into liquidation as we’ve got no
reason to continue to trade.”
Follington said the Department of Planning and Environment had
already given a “100 per cent positive report” for the proposal after plans for
a larger mine near Gardens of Stone National Park were rejected.
The PAC determination said the current proposal by Coalpac entailed
highwall mining beneath the pagoda structures and escarpments, and that open
cut mining would come to within a 100m buffer.
“This does not comply with the recommendations of the PAC
Review Report on the Coalpac Consolidation Project,” the determination said.
“The Commission does not believe the Conditions recommended
by the Department (DPE) represent ‘the highest level of protection’ for the
Pagoda landform features.
“The Commission considers that some risks to the pagoda
structures and escarpments are posed from any further open cut of highwall
mining towards the pagodas on the two sites.
“Consequently the Commission considers that these further
expansions should not be permitted within the Cullen Valley and Invincible
It was noted that open cut mining would have intruded on
some areas of the pagoda landform complex, and remove areas of habitat for
fauna species that use the landforms, such as the Broad-headed snake.