SHADOW Minister for the Central Coast, David Harris, has called on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to block the proposed Wallarah 2 Coal Project if it is approved by the Planning Assessment Commission.
The planned coalmine moved a step closer to fruition this week when the Department of Planning and Environment referred the proposal to the PAC for final determination.
The department remains convinced the $800-million coalmine is “in the public interest” and is approvable, subject to the operators satisfying a raft of strict conditions.
There remains ongoing concerns, however, about the potential impacts of mining under the region’s water catchment.
“The water that supplies our growing Central Coast needs to be protected,” Mr Harris told ABC Radio Central Coast.
The member for Wyong said Ms Berejiklian was the third NSW Premier to have the opportunity to stop Wallarah 2.
“Barry O’Farrell promised to do it; Mike Baird failed to do it; now Gladys Berejiklian can do the right thing and, with the stroke of a pen, she can put this to sleep.”
The coalmine is proposed for a site at Bushells Ridge, about five kilometres north-west of Wyong, near the border with Lake Macquarie.
Mr Harris has long argued it is not an appropriate location for a coalmine.
“It is ironic that we’re still fixated on coalmines in water catchments,” he said.
This is not the first time the PAC has been asked to consider the project.
In 2014, the PAC found the proponent’s claimed economic benefits were “not credible”.
The 2014 version of the plan was then revised after the PAC made 35 recommendations.
This prompted the proponent to submit an amended version of the coalmine plan in 2016.
The department said the project would provide “real and significant economic and social benefits” for the Central Coast and NSW, with jobs for about 450 people during construction, and 300 during operations.