The NSW Deputy Premier says he will oppose a coalmining project in a ‘beautiful’ area of NSW that lies next to a national park.
The NSW Deputy Premier says he will move to stop a controversial coal project near Wollemi National Park.
Paul Toole told a budget estimates hearing on Wednesday that he would propose to the cabinet that the coal exploration project in the Hawkins and Rumker areas should be ruled out.
“It is my intention to take this proposal to my colleagues, and it is my intention to actually rule it out,” Mr Toole said.
The 3000-hectare area of land, just north of Mr Toole’s electorate of Bathurst, has been earmarked for potential exploration, but some locals have argued against the plan.
A report by consultancy firm EarthScapes that was commissioned by anti-mining lobby group Lock the Gate showed there were dozens of Aboriginal heritage sites nearby.
The report said the Hawkins and Rumker areas, and nearby Ganguddy-Kelgoola, had no less than 45 recorded heritage sites between them.
The consultants also said 22 threatened animal species and six threatened plant species would be at risk.
Mr Toole said he was not convinced the project would be commercially viable and “social issues” were also at play.
“It is a beautiful area,” he said.
“And there are commercial issues around its viability, but there’s also social issues that have been identified as well.
“And I think it makes it very clear for me to actually say to my department that when we put the report going up to my colleagues, it will be actually indicating that we rule it out.”
Greens upper house MP Cate Faehrmann, who used her time at budget estimates to ask Mr Toole about his position on the project, said afterwards the Deputy Premier’s announcement was “wonderful news”.
“I am now calling on the NSW government to protect this culturally rich and environmentally significant area by adding it to the national parks estate,” she said.
“This area was originally left out of Wollemi National Park because of its potential for coal exploration.
“Opening it up now would have devastated the local community and the Dabee Wiradjuri people and put 7000 hectares of threatened ecological communities, countless Aboriginal heritage sites and our climate at risk.”
She also said the government should rule out coal and gas projects in Ganguddy-Kelgoola as well.