Saturday, 13 September 2014

Did Whitehaven Coal set out to deceive the NSW Government concerning its Maule Creek mine in the Leard State Forest?

Snapshots from New Matilda 12 September 2014

The Sydney Morning Herald 12 September 2014:

The NSW Department of Planning is investigating the seemingly phantom appointment by Whitehaven Coal of an environmental group to a compulsory oversight committee for its $767 million Maules Creek coalmine.
The department warned Whitehaven in June 2013 after its nominated group, Greening Australia, failed to send a representative to the inaugural meeting of the Community Consultative Committee due to discuss the open-cut mine's biodiversity management plan.
"I would remind you that the intention of including a representative from an environmental special interest group is to ensure sufficient comment and feedback on biodiversity issues," mining projects manager Mike Young wrote to Whitehaven, according to documents obtained by New Matilda and viewed by Fairfax Media.
Despite the request a representative of Greening Australia provide comments "either in writing or at the next CCC meeting", Whitehaven failed to act. Instead, the miner provided "apologies" for the group's absence at all subsequent meetings.
"We haven't offered any apologies because we didn't know the meetings were on," Greening Australia chief executive Brendan Foran said, adding the group had no record of its nomination.
After a phone call about the committee in August 2013, Greening Australia heard nothing from Whitehaven until early last month when the law firm acting on behalf of the miner, Ashurst, requested it attend a committee meeting the following day at Boggabri, near the mine in northern NSW.
"It was extremely short notice," Greening Australia's NSW head, Peter Flottmann, said. "There was quite a deal of urgency."
Without knowing the context nor having any prior knowledge of the event, Mr Flottmann declined the request. Soon afterwards, a separate party acting for Whitehaven rang one of his staff members and asked if he could join a teleconference of the meeting.
"That wasn't an appropriate approach to my company," he said.
Mr Flottmann then emailed Whitehaven environmental manager Daniel Martin formally resigning Greening Australia from a role he had not been aware it had.
"As discussed I was extremely disappointed in Whitehaven`s recent approach to Greening Australia and my staff," the email said. It demanded the miner "strike any reference" of the group being absent, "as clearly we had no knowledge of any meeting being held between August 2013 and August 2014".
Greening Australia is yet to hear from Whitehaven….

New Matilda article

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