November 30, 2012

The State Government is calling for public comment on new draft terms of reference for a proposal to expand the New Acland Coal Mine in the Darling Downs.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the release of the new draft terms of reference for community input followed New Hope Coal’s application for a smaller scale expansion.

“New Hope has revised its proposal to significantly reduce its impact on agricultural land, and moved it further away from local communities,” Mr Seeney said.

“The revised proposal is 63 per cent smaller with the project footprint reduced by 2300ha. The reduced scope means mining over the town of Acland is no longer proposed and neither is the diversion of Lagoon Creek.

“After the public comment period, the Co-ordinator-General will release the final terms of reference for an environmental impact statement.”

Mr Seeney said the Jondaryan rail load out facility would also be moved eight kilometres from the town and mining would move 10km from Oakey.

He said the State Government understood that communities had strong views on the proposal despite the smaller scope.

“We acknowledge there will be a broad range of views on the proposal and that people will have concerns mine’s impacts on agricultural land, while others will be interested in the mine’s potential to make a huge contribution to the region’s economy,” he said.

“The release of the draft terms of reference allows these groups to provide their input and shape the scope of the project’s proposal.

“The project proposal will be subject to rigorous assessment under State and Commonwealth laws and the mine’s future will rest on whether it can meet all those strict requirements.

Mr Seeney said a project proceeding through the EIS process was not an indication of Co-ordinator-General approval or support.

“This is simply recognition of the project’s complexity and the undertaking of a comprehensive environmental assessment process that must address the key impacts of the proposal,” he said.

“While an EIS for the previous version of the project was released for comment in late 2009, a new EIS will now be required on the reduced project scope.

“By sending the proponent back to the terms of reference stage, I have taken into account that people may wish to make a submission on what the new project should address in a new EIS.

“Nine weeks, which is double the standard comment period, will be provided to allow people ample time to consider the document.”

The draft terms of reference are available for comment from tomorrow (December 1) to 5:00pm on Monday, February 4, 2013.

The terms of reference, project description document, and further information about the EIS process, can be viewed online or from Monday in person at Toowoomba Regional Council service centres in Goombungee, Oakey and Toowoomba.

All public submissions should be made in writing and received by the Co-ordinator-General by 5:00pm on Monday, February 4, 2013.

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