Shenhua cleared for koala move at Watermark coal development

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Legal opposition to Shenhua’s Watermark coal mine, based on threats to local koala populations, has been quashed by the Land and Environment Court.

The challenge, lodged by the Upper Mooki Community group and represented by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), argued that the Planning and Assessment Commission had not followed due process in considering the impact on the local koala habitat.

EDO chief executive Sue Higginson said that while the PAC was found to be correct in following due process, Shenua still had work to do before going ahead with the Liverpool Plains coal mine.

"There are a number of management plans required in relation to exactly how they're going to manage water impacts and … how they are going to undertake the translocation of this significant proportion of koalas," she said.

Shenhua’s plans for mine development include relocating the 262 koalas living in the mine vicinity over the course of the mine life.

However, last week the ABC revealed that Shenhua had not made any new submissions to the NSW Department of Planning since March 26 last year.

"While Shenhua has received Planning Approval from the NSW Government, it has not submitted a Mining Licence application to the … DRE,” a spokesman for the Department of Industry, Resources and Energy said.

The newly ordained deputy Prime Minister and member for New England Barnaby Joyce has been a vocal opponent of the proposed mine on the grounds that it will be too close to prime agricultural land.

It is understood that the exploration licence for Watermark, worth $300 million, has not been renewed and will expire today.