Oct 6 2017
Whitehaven seek to water down noise conditions
Take Action today – Whitehaven Coal have lodged a modification (Mod 4) with the Department of Planning to remove an important noise condition which is critical to lowering cumulative mining noise over the life of opencut coal mining in the region.
The short, 15 page document contains little information other than the proposal that the company wants to delete the sound power clause in Condition 12a of Schedule 3 of the Maules Creek coal mine approval based on its “strong record of compliance”. The sound power clause says the proponent shall;
“ensure that all equipment and noise control measures deliver sound power levels that are equal to or better than the sound power levels identified in the EA*, and correspond to best practice or the application of the best available technology economically achievable;”
* The “EA” is the original Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS)
You can object to this watering down of sound power regulations for the mine by going to the Department of Planning website and filling out their quick and easy online submission form.
You might like to mention that;
- There has been no public consultation for this proposed modification and no explanation as to why it is sought
- The company has provided no data to support the proposition that it needn’t maintain or reduce sound power levels for its equipment or noise control measures
- The company got its approval way back in 2012 and there is no need to shift the goal posts now. This is bad for Planning Integrity in NSW
- A condition that maintains or reduces sound power levels over time is a good thing as it will foster mine noise improvements over the life of the mine. This is what communities expect – continuous improvement of environmental performance
- This is a standard “sound power” clause and all other mines in the region have this clause and manage to live with it, setting a consistent regulatory framework across the region.
- If Whitehaven was successful deleting this clause, others may try their luck to reduce their noise conditions. This would be bad for cumulative noise and bad for local residents
- That far from a “strong record of compliance”, the company has a track record of noise non-compliance having had an official warning by the Department of Planning in August 2017 for noise management and recently having its environmental risk rating set at maximum by the EPA – one of only 3 mines in the state.
Oct 14 2017
MCCC objects to Whitehaven “Get out of Jail Free” noise modification
The MCCC has lodged its objection with the Department of Planning re the Whitehaven Mod 4. The FULL Submission can be downloaded here. The MCCC was very clear in the covering letter to the Planning Secretary.
“The Maules Creek Community Council objects to the Mod 4 Environmental Assessment from Whitehaven Coal to remove a specific requirement for continuous environmental noise improvement by maintaining or reducing mining equipment sound power.
Five years on from the original determination the proponent has returned to the planning system to water down its noise conditions based on the dubious assertion that it has a strong record of compliance. Nothing could be further from the truth on noise.
The proponent provides no evidence of why they should be allowed to remove this requirement by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) to enforce continuous environmental noise performance improvement by maintaining or reducing sound power.
The other coal mines operating in the area carry the same conditions in their approvals due to the commitment of the government at the time to have consistent regulation in the Maules Creek area. We see no reason to alter that position.
In general, the planning approval has failed to protect vulnerable families from the impacts of noise in the district. Farmers inside the zone of affectation are stranded, dealing with a belligerent and powerful company, while those outside the zone have uncovered a pattern of non-compliance.
The topography of the surrounding Nandewar range, inversion layers and remote location far from the eye of compliance staff has left families at Maules Creek vulnerable to a secretive proponent who games the system at every turn.
We believe that this proposal in Mod 4 to remove noise conditions has a negative flow on for the cumulative noise from mining in our area and for planning integrity across the state. We strongly recommend that Mod 4 is rejected.”
By MCCC • Uncategorized •