Former Planning Minister, Prue Goward, took away the opportunity for anyone to challenge the approval of the Warkworth expansion project on its merits in November 2014.
After the project was approved in November last year, the Bulga Milbodale Progress Association (BMPA) launched a judicial review case, which only allows for review of procedure, rather than examining whether the approval was the right decision.
THE BMPA said in a statement: “After six and a half years and two successes in the courts the BMPA has discontinued its legal proceedings that were challenging the November 2015 decision by the Planning Assessment Commission to approve Rio Tinto’s Warkworth mine expansion.
“Our legal team EDO NSW has advised us that after inspecting all of the documents in the government offices provided as part of the proceedings our grounds of challenge to protect the uncertain future of the Warkworth Sands Woodlands would not be able to succeed in the court.
“EDO NSW advises that in their view the Planning Assessment Commission, following the advice of the NSW Department of Planning, did all that they were required to do under the law to protect the critically endangered Warkworth Sands Woodland, notwithstanding the strong evidence that this mine will push it to extinction.”
The New South Wales Planning Assessment Commission has approved applications to continue mining at its Mount Thorley Warkworth coal mine last November, subject to environmental conditions.
The PAC found that the benefits of allowing mining to continue at Mount Thorley Warkworth outweigh the impacts and they have approved our proposals after a recommendation by the NSW Department of Planning.
A spokesman for Rio Tinto said: “This approval will come as a great relief for thousands of people across Singleton and the Hunter Valley – from our 1300 employees and their families to people working at the hundreds of local businesses that supply the mine and community groups it supports.
“We will thoroughly review the Planning Assessment Commission’s determination now to assess the detail of the findings.”
The NSW Department of Planning’s assessment of a second review of a proposal by Rio Tinto to extend the Mt Thorley and Warkworth found that the impact of the project can be effectively managed through the implementation of strict conditions.
The final decision on the application to extend the Mt Thorley and Warkworth mines was made by the PAC after the department responded to the matters it had raised.