Sunday, 15 October 2017

In the face of the growing threat of climate change sometimes Australian politicians leave me speechless

The Guardian, 9 October 2017:

The New South Wales government will introduce legislation to approve an underground coalmine that was blocked by the courts because it was polluting Sydney’s drinking water.

On Monday the state’s energy minister, Don Harwin, announced the government would overturn a decision by the NSW court of appeal to block the extension of the Springvale colliery.

The mine, owned by Centennial Coal, is the sole supplier to Lithgow’s Mount Piper power station, which provides about 10% of NSW’s electricity.

On Monday Harwin said the mine was “vital for energy security and affordability”.

“My top priority as energy minister is to ensure NSW households and business have an affordable, secure and reliable energy supply – this decision supports that,” he said.

The legislation, which is expected to be introduced to the parliament this week, will change the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act to “clarify” that “projects in the Sydney water catchment seeking to expand must maintain or improve water quality compared to their existing consent”.

It will also specifically validate the Springvale mine’s state significant development consent.

The government’s planning minister, Anthony Roberts, said the legislation would “support the construction of a water treatment plant” which he said would eliminate saline discharges.

“This new treatment plant will see zero mine water discharge into the Coxs river, is supported by the EPA and WaterNSW and has separately been approved by the independent Planning Assessment Commission,” he said.

In August the court of appeal determined that the mine was polluting Sydney’s drinking water and therefore operating on an invalid licence.

After a challenge by environment group 4nature, the court found the commission had erred in approving the licence because it involved discharging polluted water into Sydney’s drinking catchment.

The approval involved saline mine water being discharged into the Coxs river, which flows into Lake Burragorang, Sydney’s major drinking-water reservoir.

Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Donald Thomas HARWIN, BEc(Hons) MLC parliamentary bio.

Liberal Member for Lane Cove, Minister for Planning, Minister for Housing, and Special Minister of State, Leader of the House, Anthony John ROBERTS, MA (Comms) MP parliamentary bio.

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