Community

NSW to weaken water quality test for extensions to mines

NSW to weaken water quality test for extensions to mines

Rather than require no negative impact on water, requirement would be for no more impact than from original development

The New South Wales government is rushing through changes to laws that protect Sydney’s drinking water, weakening them to allow extensions to mines, or any other development, that pollute the water catchment.

The existing law, before the new amendments, requires that both new developments and extensions to existing developments, either have a neutral or beneficial effect on Sydney’s drinking water.

But that requirement came under the spotlight in August when a court ruled that the Springvale coalmine’s expansion approval, which it was currently operating under, did not pass the test, and it was therefore operating without a valid licence.

The Springvale mine is the sole source of coal for Energy Australia’s Mount Piper power station, which supplies about 10% of NSW’s energy needs.

Yesterday, the NSW energy minister, Don Harwin, said: “My top priority as energy minister is to ensure NSW households and business have an affordable, secure and reliable energy supply – this decision supports that.”

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Sydney Drinking Water Catchment) bill 2017, seen by the Guardian, has two parts. Firstly, it validates the approval of Springvale’s development consent, meaning the mine will be allowed to continue operating.

But it goes further, and “clarifies” the water quality test that is applied to extensions of existing developments.

Rather than ensuring extensions don’t have a negative impact on Sydney’s drinking water, the change would merely require that the extension doesn’t pollute the drinking water any more than the original development did prior to the extension.

Andrew Cox, president of 4Nature, which brought the successful case against Springvale mine, said the changes will lock in the weaker pollution regulations of decades-ago, by allowing existing mines to keep expanding without meeting today’s pollution standards.

“It provides an infinite pollution holiday,” Cox said. “Existing pollution levels will be grandfathered.”

Cox said the change undermined a fundamental principle of planning, in which environmental conditions are ratcheted-up over time to meet new community standards and cope with increased pressures.

NSW Labor spokesman for industry, resources and energy, Adam Searle, told the Guardian Labor would oppose that part of the bill, and would move an amendment to it.

“It’s not desirable and we oppose it because we think there should be a higher standard of protection,” Searle said.

Searle said Labor supported the approval of the Springvale mine to secure supply of coal for Mount Piper power station. But he said the other half of the bill was “unnecessary and potentially dangerous”.

The Greens energy spokesman, Jeremy Buckingham, said the legislation will, in effect, penalise newer, cleaner development in favour of extensions to older, dirtier developments. He said the Greens would also be moving amendments.

“A perverse outcome of the legislation is that it will penalise new environmentally sensitive development over older, more polluting developments. New developments will be held to a much higher standard than the extension of existing developments,” Buckingham said.

The government says the change just formally validates how the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (Pac) and the land and environment court were interpreting the law already, and this change meant that interpretation could continue.

A spokesman for the NSW Minister for planning, Anthony Roberts, said the Pac and the land and environment court’s future decisions would now be consistent with their past ones.

The spokesman said the rushed process was needed to alleviate uncertainty in the energy market, which he said was causing higher prices already.

Buckingham said the energy supply problem was being used as a ruse to weaken environmental protections.

“The Berejiklian government is using the confected crisis of Mt Piper’s coal supply to sneak through laws that gut protections for the quality of Sydney’s drinking water supply,” he said.

“The legislation goes far beyond the Springvale coalmine and allows any extensions to existing developments in the whole Sydney Drinking Water Catchment to avoid the ‘neutral or beneficial’ test designed to improve the quality of Sydney’s drinking water,” Buckingham said.

“It freezes in time poor levels of pollution control at the expense of Sydney’s drinking water quality,” Buckingham said.

The bill is expected to go before the NSW lower house today and the NSW upper house on Wednesday.

Online Source: The Guardian

Community

More in Community

Indian Migrants Sent US$5.71bn In Remittances To Other Countries In 2017

The Indian TelegraphSeptember 14, 2018

Ash Venkat Represents India At Pageant Of The World

Vish ViswanathanAugust 30, 2018

Sachin Pilot: We Oppose Lynching

The Indian TelegraphAugust 28, 2018

AEC Calls On Hindi Speakers To Register For Election Work

The Indian TelegraphAugust 28, 2018

Business Confidence Soars In Regional NSW

The Indian TelegraphAugust 20, 2018

As Floods Ravage Kerala, Labor Urges Oz Government To Extend Helping Hand

The Indian TelegraphAugust 20, 2018

Free Counselling For Western Sydney Parents

The Indian TelegraphAugust 16, 2018

Global Movie & TV Piracy On The Rise As Criminals Profit From OTT Streaming Credentials Available on Dark Web For Under $9

The Indian TelegraphAugust 14, 2018

Crown Group Offers The Benefits Of Being Elite

The Indian TelegraphAugust 14, 2018

NSW Cost Of Living Service Goes ‘LIVE’

The Indian TelegraphAugust 14, 2018

Superstar Celeb Judges Announced For Telstra Bollywood Dance Competition’18

The Indian TelegraphAugust 9, 2018

MAV Announces Two International Cultural Collaborations With Singapore

The Indian TelegraphAugust 8, 2018

Migration: An Honest Picture

Jyotsna SharmaAugust 8, 2018

Strike A Pose, It’s Never Too Late

Susheela SrinivasAugust 8, 2018

Refugee Week Wake-Up Call: We Can Do Better

Shivani SinghalAugust 8, 2018

Building On Australia’s Migrant Success Story

The Indian TelegraphAugust 8, 2018

Winter-proof Your Skin. Now!

Kavita ShyamAugust 8, 2018

Inaugural Macarthur Multicultural Children’s Festival A Big Hit With Kids

The Indian TelegraphAugust 8, 2018

Happy Feet On Jhankar Beats

The Indian TelegraphJuly 31, 2018

Bollywood Gupshup

Aarti Kapur SinghJuly 18, 2018

In A Historical First, Yoga Comes To Oz Parliament

ManasiJuly 18, 2018