The NSW Land and Environment Court has dismissed a case by environmental group 4nature against the approval of the Springvale underground coal mine north of Lithgow.
Last year, Centennial Coal received Federal Government extension approvals at both its Springvale and Mandalong coal mines following stop-start approvals processes. Previous recommended extensions at Springvale had been ordered back to public hearing, requiring the company to stand down 300 workers on forced leave due to the lengthy processes.
4nature challenged the Springvale approval, arguing that discharge from the mine could contaminate drinking water in Sydney.
However, the court ruled that the state’s Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC) correctly applied the test that showed the mine had a ‘neutral or beneficial’ impact on water quality.
4nature president Andrew Cox said they were “shocked” at the failure of the planning laws to protect drinking water from mining pollution.
“This ruling is the first time these catchment laws have been tested in the courts – the determination today shows they have comprehensively failed,” he said.
“If a coal mine can pump each day 19 million litres of salty, nutrient and metal laden water into the Coxs River that flows into Warragamba Dam then the law is failing to safeguard the basic right of our community to clean drinking water.”
He called for the planning minister Rob Stokes to intervene and require the mine’s polluted water be tested and cleaned prior to being released into the river.
Katie Brassil, Centennial Coal’s executive GM, said all the issues related to the mine’s approval were dealt with through extensive assessment process, the Lithgow Mercury reports.
Cox added that 4nature will review the judgement before deciding whether to lodge an appeal.