Shenhua questions PAC recommendation to buy more prime farm land

Shenhua says it has ‘major reservations’ around some of the recommendations from PAC in regards to its Watermark coal project.

A report released by the commission last month said the mine was approvable but raised questions over water modelling and plans to mine in “significant” areas of the highly fertile black soil Liverpool Plains.

It also said Shenhua should undertake sale negotiations with25 landholders near the mine who will face potential dust and noise impacts.

This wouldn’t force private landowners to sell, but provides them with the option to do so should they decide the project-related impact sare unreasonable.

Shenhua said it was this section of the report which it was concerned with.

“The company has major reservations about the recommendations regarding the noise and air quality criteria which are without precedent in NSW and far exceed those recommended in the Department of Planning’s preliminary Assessment of the Project,” Watermark project manager Paul Jackson said.

“Shenhua accepts it will need to acquire additional land adjacent to our operations and where people’s homes are within our zone of affectation for noise and air quality as determined by Government policy and reflected in past practice. However we cannot accept the acquisition criteria adopted by the PAC which requires us to potentially acquire additional properties,located well beyond the project boundary and which would not need to be acquired under the Government’s ongoing acquisition criteria.”

Jackson said the Watermark mine had had been deliberately altered to avoid the highly  Liverpool Plains and minimise ownership of prime agricultural land.

“Our extensive and ongoing efforts to minimise the impact on farming will be wasted and undone with the stroke of a pen as a result of the PAC recommendations. We should not be forced to acquire swathes of prime agricultural land,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the project had accepted a number of other recommendations from the PAC.

He said Shenhua had re-run ground water modelling under a number of scenarios as suggest by PAC’s independent water expert with the aimt o resolve some uncertainties around the data.

“This work has now been completed and under all four scenarios recommended by Dr Mackie, the predicted water impact of the mine is less than that predicted in our Environmental Impact Statement,” Jackson said.

The Department of Planning and Environment will consider the PAC review and send its own recommendation tot he commission for a final determination.

Shenhua’s full response to the PAC review report will be available online later today.

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