Springvale Mine has been fined by the Department of Planning and Environment for damaging vegetation in swampland classified as an endangered ecological community (EEC) on the Newnes Plateau.
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The Department fined the mine $15,000 for damage to Sunnyside Swamp between August 28 and September 1 last year.
According to a Department press release, Centennial Coal notified compliance officers to the damage of vegetation at Sunnyside Swamp, which occurred after Centennial Coal failed to identify the swamp as an Endangered Ecological Community on a Land Disturbance Permit issued to a contractor.
The contractor was completing vegetation clearing works under a powerline located on the Newnes Plateau.
Dr Olive Holm, the executive director of resource assessments and compliance, said planning conditions on the mine had not been followed.
“Springvale Coal is required to identify important environmental areas, such as Endangered Ecological Communities, when issuing a Land Disturbance Permit for clearing or ground disturbance works,” Dr Holm said.
“Because the company failed to properly identify Sunnyside Swamp on the Land Disturbance Permit, an independent contractor damaged vegetation in the area when undertaking clearing under the power line.”
The department estimated the damaged area measured around 128 metres squared and is classified within the 650 ha area of the Newnes Plateau Shrub Swamp, which is listed as a threatened ecological community under the Biodiversity Conservation Act.
“Compliance officers will continue to monitor the Springvale Coal Mine site,” Dr Holm said.
Spokesperson for Centennial Coal Katie Brassil said a work permit issued by the company had failed to identify and therefore restrict access to Sunnyside Swamp by an ‘experienced’ contractor.
“Centennial regrets this incident, has engaged experts to undertake the remediation required and has rectified systems to ensure this mistake is unable to be repeated,” she said.
The ecological importance of the Newnes swamps, which contain endangered species including the Giant Dragonfly and Blue Mountains Waterskink, has been a focus of criticism against longwall mining in the area.
“The swamps are the sponge that hold the water and feed the creeks and rivers in the dry periods like we’ve just had. When it [the swamps] dries up, it just dies and the whole environment loses its base,” Thomas Ebersoll, the secretary of the Lithgow Environment Group said.
He said Centennial Coal had to take responsibility for the swamps’ health, some of which mining occur under.
“There is vegetation very unique to these swamps,” he said.
NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee determined the Newnes Plateau Shrub Swamp to be an Endangered Ecological Community in 2005.
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