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Ashton mine legal bid to begin today

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An open-cut coal mine that received NSW Government approval last year will face a legal bid from the Upper Hunter community starting today.

The Ashton Coal’s South East Open Cut coal mine at Camberwell in Sydney had a revised application approved by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission in October last year.

It came after the mine was knocked back in 2011 due to health and water safety fears.

Now the Land and Environment Court will deliberate on the Hunter Environment Lobby’s appeal against the mine’s approval, the Newcastle Herald reports.

Residents will be giving evidence at Singleton court on Tuesday and Wednesday.

According Camberwell farmer Wendy Bowman, the coal mine would destroy water systems and agricultural land.

“We find ourselves locked in a battle to save our productive agricultural land and our water, the lifeblood of our community, with the odds stacked against us,” she said.

“The government authority designated to protect water and the state’s planning commission are siding with a foreign-owned mining giant that will ruin the land and water and take profits offshore.”

A spokesman for Ashton Coal said the company’s environmental assessment was comprehensive.

“This has led to the incorporation of robust environmental protection measures for the project,” he said.

“The credentials of the project are strong and Ashton Coal is committed to the sound implementation of the project that would in turn provide benefit to the local community.”

The open-cut coal mine is an $83 million project expected to generate about 160 jobs with 16.5 million tonnes of coal production over seven years.

The project was rejected in December 2011 due to fears it would contaminate Glennies Creek, a Hunter River tributary, along with fears of noise and dust.

A study in 2012 showed coal mining communities overseas had higher rates of death and disease.

There were calls for a compilation of a report into the health impacts in the Hunter Valley following this finding.

A previous report said Hunter Valley residents are exposed to some toxins at levels more than 100 times higher than they were a decade ago in the area.

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