The Mudgee District Environment Group wants to know how a state-owned coal mine can be independently assessed as well as distance itself from pressures by government.
A majority of 40 residents at Thursday’s public meeting on the Cobbora Coal Project also questioned the NSW government’s justification of the mine considering a long-term cost to taxpayers.
The meeting passed a resolution calling the state government to “redirect budget allocations away from the Cobbora Mine proposal to more sustainable projects because it threatens the future of the Mudgee Region and cannot be justified as best use of NSW taxpayers money.”
Environment group chairperson, Bev Smiles, said the current proposal was only stage one of a larger mine.
“The full facts are not on the table for the community and Mid-Western Regional Council to understand long-term impacts of coal mining in the Cobbora area,” she said.
In her presentation to the meeting Ms Smiles explained changes in the mine’s layout from its original proposal. She said Cobbora Holding Company had moved away from destroying Laheys Creek and Sandy Creek and would “now destroy more bushland and see a loss of vegetation and threatened species which is close to the Environment Group’s heart”.
We are committed to explaining the project to local people and getting their feedback.
The group chair also asked nothing to be advanced in the development process until the state government’s Central West Strategic Land Use Policy was complete.
On Friday Cobbora Holding Company CEO, Steve Ireland, released a statement saying during the past year there had “been thorough and meaningful two-way community consultation”.
“We are committed to explaining the project to local people and getting their feedback. That’s why we took 12 senior staff and specialists to community information sessions in Gulgong, Dunedoo, Mudgee and Dubbo less than eight weeks ago,” Mr Ireland said.
He said the company adopted community information sessions, instead of public meetings, after much consideration.
“We went with this format for consulting the community because it allowed us to answer question’s one-on-one in as much detail as individuals wanted. The fact is many people don’t feel comfortable standing up in a public meeting and asking questions,” he said.
“[There is also] a senior community liaison officer constantly in the region, talking to local government, business groups, community groups and others, including regular contact with the group promoting last night’s meeting.
“That’s in addition to an 1800 number people can call for further information and a comprehensive website.”
No Cobbora Holding Company representatives were present at the public meeting on Thursday.