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‘Walk away’: Bylong coal mine appeal rejected

The Court of Appeal’s rejection of the mine has prompted calls by farmers for the government to press KEPCO to give up its land bank.

The Court of Appeal’s rejection of the mine has prompted calls by farmers for the government to press KEPCO to give up its land bank.Credit:Brendan Esposito

“We presented testimony from over a dozen expert witnesses and put the latest scientific evidence before the commission,” Ms Koroglu said. “The IPC made its decision based on that evidence, finding that this coal mine is not in the public interest. Two subsequent appeals have thoroughly tested and supported the IPC’s decision to refuse the mine.”

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A spokesman for KEPCO said the the company was “disappointed that the court did not find in favour of the project and will now take some time to review the decision and consider [our] next steps”.

A spokesman for NSW Deputy Premier and Resources Minister John Barilaro said that “any future plans, including what KEPCO might do with land owned freehold by them, is a matter for the company”.

Stephen Galilee, the head of the NSW Minerals Council, said the project had “strong support in the local communities of Kandos and Rylstone because of the much-needed jobs and investment it would have delivered for those towns and across the region”.

“Two years and a pandemic later, the jobs and investment are now needed more than ever,” Mr Galilee said. “The reasons for the project’s rejection were flawed two years ago and they remain flawed today.”

But Bylong Valley locals and the Lock the Gate Alliance separately called on the government to assist the buyback of land KEPCO had wanted to turn into a coal mine. The company holds almost 7000 hectares in the area.

According to Lock the Gate, KEPCO had lost $US405 million ($550 million) on the project and had written down the value of the mining rights from $642 million to zero.

“There is no one operating the local store any more – the valley is a shell of its former self,” Phillip Kennedy, a spokesman for the Bylong Valley Protection Alliance, said.

“We want the Berejiklian government to extinguish the coal licence, just like it did with Shenhua on the Liverpool Plains, so Bylong can once again be the prosperous town it used to be.”

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Tim Beshara, manager of Policy and Strategy at the Wilderness Society, called on the government to reconsider plans for other new coal mines in the region, which is close to the Wollemi National Park.

“This court result should cause the NSW government to reconsider their plans to open up more of the Wollemi region to new coal,” Mr Beshara said.

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