May 1, 2014

Coal conflicts: Wallarah 2 project infected by the NSW disease

Up the road from the daily ICAC revelations, the Planning Assessment Commission is muddled in conflict over the Wallarah 2 underground coal project. Has it been infected by the NSW disease?

Paddy Manning

Crikey business editor

Under the pall cast by the sensational Independent Commission Against Corruption hearings only 600 metres away, the Planning Assessment Commission is finalising a report to the New South Wales government on the hugely controversial $800 million Wallarah 2 underground coal project on the central coast.

As Crikey recapped on Wednesday, Wallarah 2 is majority-owned by South Korean steel giant Kores, which employed disgraced Liberal lobbyist Nick di Girolamo in 2012-13 and managed to get the O’Farrell government to do a spectacular backflip after the 2011 election, going from blanket opposition to the mine beforehand to entertaining it under the supposedly arms-length “State Significant Development” process which delegated approval authority to PAC.

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3 thoughts on “Coal conflicts: Wallarah 2 project infected by the NSW disease

  1. John Cole

    Seems Qld has caught the NSW bug. Wallin’s Qcoal pays a handsome donation to the LNP and then gets the go ahead (sans EIS) for his Sonoma mine to ‘divert’ Coral Creek near Collinsville (why don’t they just say ‘rip it up’?).

    Meanwhile out on the Darling Downs New Hope coal has reportedly paid out $700 000 to the LNP in the lead up to its New Acland Mine expansion application. The Bookmakers are happy to take bets on the Coordinator Generals verdict…..

  2. 64magpies

    Just incredible. How they manage to sleep at night is beyond me.

  3. fractious

    Thanks Paddy, a great article. It won’t surprise you or your audience to know that Wallarah 2 is but the tip of a very large iceberg – anyone who’s had any substantial history dealing with environmental assessment of large projects in NSW who’s had their eyes open will know this game has been going on for well over a decade, probably more like two. Even ‘outsiders’ can trace the way successive NSW Inc governments (of both facades) have either deliberately diluted or wilfully removed environmental safeguards and facility for community consultation from both the principal legislation (EP&A Act 1979), linked Acts and subordinate regulations.

    A couple of decades back just about everyone involved in EIA knew the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ (economic, social and environmental) by rote and recited it as a matter of course. Within a few years it became ‘economy, “maaate no worries” and “ah just plant a couple of trees’, no-one who counts will know the difference”‘.

    Some day, when you’re bored or have a week or three to fill in, go look at the graft and corruption that goes into RFAs (Regional Forest Agreements) – it’ll make your eyes water.

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