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Independent Planning Commission rubs out Southern Highlands coal mine

The commission also noted a whole-of-government assessment by the department as recently as June had found the project not to be in the public interest and should be refused. Others objecting included the Wingecarribee Shire Council and the local community including celebrities such as Nicole Kidman.

Concerns included the mine’s projected greenhouse gas emissions, risks to surface water, including to Sydney’s drinking water catchment area, effects on local Aboriginal and historic heritage and “ongoing stress and disharmony associated with the project”, the commission said.

It noted the main factors supporting the mine were economic, including jobs and benefits for local business, and efforts Hume Coal had proposed to avoid subsidence and other environmental impacts.

“Based on the potential for long-term and irreversible impacts, and the impacts of the project on the social and environmental values of the region, the project is not in the public interest,” the IPC’s three commissioners concluded.

Peter Martin, from Coal Free Southern Highlands, said he was relieved the battle against POSCO’s proposal appeared to be over.

“This catastrophe has been going on for 11 years and 11 days,” Mr Martin said. “We shouldn’t have had to fight for so long against this coal mine which was always a crazy proposition from day one.“

“POSCO should really thank us because we’ve saved them more than $500 million that would have been sunk into an ultimately stranded asset because the world is quickly phasing out fossil fuels to avoid catastrophic global warming,” he said.

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