A proposal to build an underground long-wall coal mine at the northern end of the Central Coast has been referred to the independent Planning and Assessment Commission.
Plans by Wallarah 2, submitted by the Wyong Areas Coal Joint Venture, had been with the Department of Planning and Environment.
They've now referred the assessment to the Commission for a final decision, saying they remain satisfied the project, with conditions, is in the public interest and approvable.
But Labor Member for Wyong David Harris says with our water catchment at risk, the Premier can and must act.
"This is part of the process - we always knew this would happen - but it's now time for the Berejiklian government to have the courage Kristina Keneally did in 2010, and say no to this mine."
"The PAC has to rule this project out, the evidence is out there."
'Following a second merit review by the Commission in May this year, the Department finalised its assessment, addressing the Commission's recommendations and has referred it to the independent Commission for final decision,' says the DPE's Executive Director of Resource Assessments and Compliance, Dr Oliver Holm, in a statement.
'The Department remains satisfied that the project is in the public interest, and is approvable, subject to the draft conditions of consent.
'We amended and strengthened the draft conditions in response to the Commission's recommendations.
'The project will provide real and significant economic and social benefits for the Central Coast region and for NSW as a whole, with employment opportunities for around 450 people during construction and 300 during operations.'.
An initial proposal was referred to the Commission for merit review in 2014. The Commission made 35 recommendations to avoid, mitigate or manage the project's predicted impacts and considered that, if adopted, there would be merit in the project proceeding.
An amended proposal was submitted to the Department in 2016 and publicly exhibited in July for a six-week period attracting around 680 public and agency submissions during the exhibition.
The Department has carefully considered community feedback and the Commission's recommendations from the 2014 and 2017 merit reviews in finalising the assessment report.