Bylong Coal hearing

AGAINST: Protesters boycotting the Planning and Assessment Commission public hearing for the Bylong Coal Project.
AGAINST: Protesters boycotting the Planning and Assessment Commission public hearing for the Bylong Coal Project.

The Bylong Coal Project has gone before a NSW Planning Assessment Commission hearing in Mudgee, with people split between employment opportunities and the impact on the valley.

KEPCO proposes to develop two open-cut mining areas and an underground mining area.

Over forty registered speakers gave submissions to the hearing on Thursday, with written submissions still open until May 19.

Community members and Lock the Gate Alliance boycotted the hearing over the PAC process, instead staging a protest outside the venue.

Bylong landholder Warrick Pearse spoke at the protest.

“There will be areas in the valley where agriculture and water resources will be destroyed forever,” he said.

“The impacts of noise, dust, traffic, etc, are going to affect the people remaining in the valley.

“But you would think that the approval has already been granted if you drove down there – there’s mine vehicles everywhere, security vehicles, and all of the gates are chained.”

FOR: KEPCO Australia’s chief operating officer Bill Vatovec. FILE.

FOR: KEPCO Australia’s chief operating officer Bill Vatovec. FILE.

Inside, KEPCO Australia’s chief operating officer Bill Vatovec, was among the registered speakers.

He said they’ve supported local businesses and suppliers so far which will continue if approved.

Employment was the common theme of supporters, with 665 people at peak construction, 470 at peak operations 291 of which directly.

“At community open days the overwhelming questions are ‘can I get a job’ and ‘when does it start’,” Mr Vatovec said.