O'Farrell Government approves open cut coal mine in high value biodiversity land

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Land the O'Farrell Government originally mapped as 'tier one biodiversity land' in its strategic regional land use policy is now being bulldozed for one of the world's largest open cut coal mines at Maules Creek.

The Planning Assessment Commission today approved the Whitehaven Maules Creek open cut coal mine on the edge of the Leard State Forest near Narrabri – despite the land being mapped as 'tier one biodiversity land' in the O'Farrell Government's draft strategic land use policy.

The open cut coal mine at Maules Creek will see some 12 million tonnes of raw coal extracted from the region every year.

"Leard State Forest had been mapped by the O'Farrell Government as tier one biodiversity land, and yet it is being bulldozed for one of the world's largest open cut coal mines," Shadow Environment and Planning Minister, Luke Foley said today.

"Maules Creek is on the edge of the Leard State Forest near Narrabri, which is home to 7,464 hectares of high value native vegetation – the single biggest remnant of native vegetation left on the heavily cleared Liverpool Plains.

"I've toured the Leard State Forest and surrounding area, I've met with local residents and know this open cut coal mine will decimate both the high value conservation lands as well as the significant local farming community.

"The O'Farrell Government created map after map with its strategic regional land use policy, but has failed to do anything to protect high value conservation land like the Leard State Forest from mining.

"The Leard State Forest is an exceptionally diverse and significant area for conservation with a total of 396 native plant and animal species known to occur there.

"The area is home to 26 threatened plant and animal species, as well as two endangered ecological communities, including one of the largest remaining strands of the nationally endangered Grassy White Box ecosystem

"This public forest, with immeasurable benefits to the community, is being destroyed forever for private gain under the O'Farrell Government."