An independent review of plans for a controversial mine expansion on the edge of the Blue Mountains has recommended the project not be approved.
The Planning Assessment Commission has found the benefits of Coalpac's proposed mine development at Cullen Bullen, in the Lithgow district, are "substantially outweighed" by the negative impacts it will have.
The company wants to extend and consolidate its Cullen Valley and Invincible mines, which would see up to 900 hectares of open cut mining developed.
Two public hearings were held in the region as part of the review, where one woman told the panel her family was already suffering respiratory illness from the mine's current operations.
In its report, the commission says it has serious concerns about the impacts of dust, noise and blasting on the health of residents.
It says it is also concerned about site rehabilitation, as the area is already proposed for inclusion in the conservation reserve system.
The development has been strongly opposed by environmental groups, who say it would damage the Gardens of Stone, an area of national and international environmental significance.
The review says there is "considerable uncertainty" about the validity of rehabilitation claims made by the proponent.
Justin McKee from the Blue Mountains Conservation Society says its great to see the significance of the area acknowledged.
"It's impossible to rehabilitate things like endangered ecological communities, you can't replace endangered species, its veneer work, it's very limited in its capacity.
"So, rehabilitating what's already there back to what it was is a really difficult project."
A final decision on the project is expected early next year.
Ref: ABC NEWS
The PAC’s report is available at www.planning.nsw.gov.au (look for the What’s New link at
the top right hand corner of the page).
Media Release by Planning Assessment Commission on the Coalpac project is available here.
Posted for Guy