Goward must fix planning assessment after damning PAC review

MEDIA RELEASE – 13 June 2014

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson called on Planning Minister Pru Goward to act to bring her department under control after the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) review of the Wallarah 2 coal mine made scathing criticisms of the Department of Planning’s assessment, as well as saying the Government’s new Mining SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy), that prioritises the significance of the resource over environmental and community concerns, has major problems.

The Planning Assessment Commission Review states the following regarding the Department of Planning’s assessment:

“Acceptance of the benefits of the project as presented by the Proponent is simply not credible. No attempt has been made to address the specific points raised by the critics of the economics assessment, yet these points appear to be soundly argued and entirely plausible.  It is not acceptable practice to gloss over this material with a few generalisations…” (p65)




The Commission is clearly of the view that the above situation is unsatisfactory and that far greater quality control is required over inclusion in assessment reports of untested claimed benefits for a project that are directly relevant to a consideration of the project under Part 3 of the Mining SEPP.(p66)



“There is now a substantial body of adverse comment about the standard of economic analysis for mining projects in NSW generally and this appears to be increasing rather than abating. (p66)

“This is an astounding and damning criticism of the Department of Planning and Minister Goward needs to step in to fix the clear bias in favour of the coal industry and unprofessional assessment reports,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The mining industry and the Department of Planning have been exposed firstly by the Land and Environment Court in the Warkworth case, and now the PAC as providing and accepting dishonest and shoddy facts, figures and assessment.

“This is not acceptable and the clear message is – ‘you can’t just make shit up anymore’,” he said.

The PAC Review also criticised the recent pro-Mining SEPP as technically flawed and problematic:

There is another major problem with the direction to the consent authority in sub-clause 12AA(5) [Mining SEPP]. The significance of the resource can be determined in economic terms. However, some of the ‘other matters’ in Part 3 are usually described as ‘externalities’ or ‘non-market impacts’ and are notoriously difficult to quantify in economic terms. The result is that there is no way to compare(weight) these matters against the significance of the resource in the scheme established under  cl.12AA.  (p66)


“In the Commission’s view cl.12AA of the Mining SEPP does not necessarily sit comfortably with the consent authority’s task under s.79C of the Act. Even if it can be argued that cl.12AA is not technically flawed, applying it to this project application is difficult in practice.  (p66)

“The Greens want to repeal the pro-mining SEPP put in place by disgraced former minister, Chris Hartcher, who is now being investigated for corruption.

“For years the community has felt the system is stacked against them, and they have been right.  The planning assessment system must be fair and rigorous and based on real facts, not mining company spin,” he said.

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916


  • This is good news! But there is still a long way to go to get a better planning system across NSW! Amending the Mining SEPP is an urgent action, but the Minister must listen to the community and work to restore confidence in planning for all of the State.


  • Great news. Everyone I talk to in the community is against a growth in mining and supports renewable energy. IT JUST MAKES SENSE. Come on government – stop taking bribes and start doing the right thing. Use some common sense and start Australia on the right path for the future.


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