Home > Cobbora Coal Mine approved but hangs in limbo

Cobbora Coal Mine approved but hangs in limbo

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The future of the Cobbora Coal Mine is still uncertain, despite receiving approval from the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC).

Commission members Gabrielle Kibble AO, David Johnson and Paul Forward reached their determination and issued the recommendation for planning approval on May 9.

The commission noted that the state-owned proponent, Cobbora Holding Company, has no intention of activating the approval.

NSW Government resolved to sell or lease the Cobbora project last year, when then-treasurer and present premier Mike Baird said the mine would cost more than $1.5 million to develop.

The PAC has also recognised that the $20 million transition funding may not be enough to cover the impacts of delays to the development of the mine on the local region.

The fund has been slated for sharing across four council areas, however Warrumbungle Shire Council indicated Dunedoo would be the worst affected and should garner the lion’s share of the fund.

The PAC said the fund would not adequately address the immediate economic impact in the area, and recommended that a socio-economic study should be conducted in the area.

The proposed site of the Coborra Coal Mine is only 22 kilometres from Dunedoo.

The PAC has also noted that among the effects of the mine would be impacts on terrestrial flora and fauna listed under the Threatened Species Conservation Act and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, including groundwater dependant ecosystems.

There are also concerns that light from the mine would affect research done at the Australian Astronomical Observatory near Coonabarabran, which should be consulted for the development of a Light Management Plan.

Warrumbungle Shire Council general manager Steve Loane told the ABC that he was pleased with the recommendations, but that they should have also dictated the way that local community and council could be represented.

"I just don't know how strong the council can be as far as insisting that council have a seat at the integrated land management or the socio-economic planning stage, other than just to recommend very strongly that there be consultation,” he said.

Although the future of the mine is uncertain, Loane has pointed out that under VPA’s with the Wellington Council, repairs to the Cobbora Road worth $4.8 million are supposed to start immediately after approval.

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