Independent NSW MP Justin Field has described today's approval of Whitehaven Coal's Narrabri Underground coal mine expansion as 'unfathomable' in the context of the catastrophic climate driven events across Eastern Australia in the last month.
The approval by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) gives the greenlight to Whitehaven's Narrabri Underground project to continue to dig up 11 million tonnes of coal each year out to 2044, extending the mine's life by 13 years. The expanded mine footprint will also undermine areas of the Pilliga Forest
Under the Coalition Government since the last election in March 2019, nine major coal and gas projects and expansions have been approved with cumulative lifetime greenhouse gas emissions of almost 2 billion tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Co2e). This project will contribute almost one quarter of that at close to 500 million tonnes Co2e
Independent NSW MP Justin Field said, "I'm extremely disappointed in the Independent Planning Commission's decision. It's unfathomable given the catastrophic climate driven events of the last month that new coal mining could be approved in NSW today.
"While the IPC made the decision, they have been clear they believe this approval is consistent with the NSW Coalition Government's planning, mining and climate policies. The fact new coal mining can be approved out to 2044 under existing policy makes a mockery of the Government's 50% by 2030 and net zero by 2050 climate targets.
"The conditions in the approval on greenhouse gas emissions are convoluted, limited in their scope and at the whim of the Planning Secretary of the day. I have little confidence the Planning Department in NSW will enforce these conditions and reduce emissions at the mine over time.
"The underlying basis of this approval is the presumed economic benefit to the Narrabri community from ongoing employment and to the broader state from coal royalties. Any economic benefit is clearly dwarfed by the billions it is already costing the taxpayer and individuals to respond and rebuild following the cascade of climate crises being experienced by communities across the state.
This is a catastrophic decision for NSW and the planet.