KEPCO has lodged a State Significant Development Application (DA) for the Bylong Coal Project with the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Planning and Environment (DPE). An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was prepared by Hansen Bailey to support the DA. The purpose of the EIS was to provide a detailed description of the Project and the existing environment of the project area. The EIS identified potential environmental, economic and social impacts of the proposed development, and nominates impact management measures through avoidance, mitigation and offsetting. The EIS also identifies actions to enhance project benefits and social opportunities for the local region.
The EIS was prepared in accordance with the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs – formally Director General Requirements or DGRs), issued by the DPE in June 2014. The Project was also referred to the Australian Government Department of the Environment and declared a ‘controlled action’ in early 2014. Subsequently, the project is required to assess Matters of National Environmental Significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The assessment process under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 has been formally accredited for the purpose of assessing the impacts of the controlled action. The SEARs for the Project incorporate the Australian Government Department of the Environment’s environmental assessment requirements.
The DA and EIS were placed on public exhibition by DPE for a period of 6 weeks from Wednesday 23 September 2015 until Friday 6 November 2015. During the exhibition period, members of the public were invited to review the EIS and make a written submission to DPE. DPE received a total of 383 submissions on the project EIS.
KEPCO and its EIS consultant Hansen Bailey prepared a response to these submissions in the form of a Response to Submissions (RTS) report. KEPCO submitted the RTS report to DP&E on 23 March 2016. The report addressed issues raised during public exhibition and provides additional information and / or clarification on various aspects of the EIS. The RTS report is available for download from DPE’s website. Additional matters raised by a small number of stakeholders were addressed in a Supplementary Response to Submissions report submitted in August 2016.
DPE subsequently finalised its Preliminary Assessment Report for the Project on 31 March 2017.
On 9 January 2017, the then Minister for Planning requested the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) (now known as the Independent Planning Commission (IPC)) conduct a Review of the Project. The PAC Review Report was published on the 25 July 2017. The Project Response to PAC Review Report (Response to PAC Review Report) was lodged with DPE on 17 January 2018 to respond to the matters raised.
The PAC Review Report stated that the impacts to the property known as Tarwyn Park (including Iron Tank) requires re-evaluation by the Heritage Council of NSW (the Heritage Council) and the Minister for Heritage. The Heritage Council was subsequently requested by DPE to provide independent comment. The Heritage Council responded to DPE in February 2018. As a consequence of this advice (and previous comments raised within the PAC Review Report), DPE in May 2018 requested further information from KEPCO in relation to the potential implications of stepping the open cut mine off Tarwyn Park.
KEPCO submitted a Supplementary Information report to DPE in July 2018. The Supplementary Information included a revised mine plan which addressed DPE’s specific requests for review and consideration in finalising its Assessment Report. DPE subsequently released its Assessment Report for the Project, which recommends that the Project is approvable, subject to stringent conditions. The Supplementary Information report and DPE’s Assessment Report can be viewed on the DPE website.
On 18 September 2019, the IPC announced its decision to refuse the Project and provided a statement of reasons for the decision. The IPC held a public meeting in Mudgee on 7 November 2018, prior to making their determination. To learn more about the determination process – visit the Bylong Coal Project page on the IPC website.
Following the IPC’s decision, KEPCO lodged a judicial appeal in the NSW Land and Environment Court. KEPCO remains committed to the Project with its future direction to be determined after the Court hands down its decision.
For further details about the Project approvals are available here: