Wallarah 2 confronts $300m Aboriginal demand

THE controversial Kores Wallarah 2 Coal project proposed for the New South Wales Central Coast has hit another snag - with the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council demanding $300 million for allowing development on a section of its land at Wyong.
Wallarah 2 confronts $300m Aboriginal demand Wallarah 2 confronts $300m Aboriginal demand Wallarah 2 confronts $300m Aboriginal demand Wallarah 2 confronts $300m Aboriginal demand Wallarah 2 confronts $300m Aboriginal demand

Longwall mining will extend beneath the Wyong State Forest area

Lou Caruana

Wallarah 2 has had ongoing discussions with Darkinjung for many years regarding compensation for accessing its land to build a rail spur to connect to the existing railway line in order to transport export coal to the Port of Newcastle.

Wallarah 2 claims it has offered Darkinjung a compensation package, including cash compensation, support for a proposed Darkinjung training centre, apprenticeships for local Aborigines and tertiary scholarships over the life of the proposed mine.

Darkinjung CEO Sean Gordon rejected this offer and instead demanded $300 million “compensation” to access a corridor of land measuring 1750m by 40m.

This equates to $30 million per hectare, or $170,000 in land access fees for every lineal metre of railway track built across Darkinjung land.

“This demand amounts to extortion,” a spokesman for the project said.

“The CEO of Darkinjung, Sean Gordon, has not justified his land council’s outrageous demand for $300 million, and has sought to avoid media scrutiny on the issue.”

Both the 2010 and current applications have always included Darkinjung land. These applications and plans for a railway line by Wallarah 2 can be found on the NSW Department of Planning website, according to the company.

Darkinjung has submitted numerous plans for industrial development on its land, which have always included the presence of the Wallarah 2 railway spur line.

Wallarah 2 also rejects Darkinjung’s claims that is has no legal right to lodge a development application for the railway line without approval from the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.

“Wallarah 2 has strong legal advice that it has met all legal requirements with its Development Application. This advice states that under NSW planning laws Wallarah 2 does not in fact require approval from Darkinjung or the NSW Aboriginal Land Council to lodge a State Significant Development (SSD) application where the Development Application has been duly advertised,” the spokesman for the project said.

“Irrespective of this legal certainty about landowner consent not being required, Wallarah 2 has continued good faith negotiations to establish an agreement with Darkinjung. This would build on Wallarah 2’s previously good relationship and support over a number of years to Darkinjung and to consolidate a long-term relationship on both social and commercial terms.

“Wallarah 2 is extremely disappointed that Darkinjung has ended negotiations over access and started a media campaign to extort $300 million from the project. We remain open to resuming constructive discussions toward the finalisation of a fair and equitable outcome for both parties.”

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