It's being labelled as an embarrassing backflip by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) on The Bloomfield Group's Rix's Creek mine extension.
On Friday afternoon the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) released a statement approving The Bloomfield Group’s proposal to extend mining at their Rix’s Creek operations for a further 21 years.
But not three hours later, they had retracted the statement and replaced it with another saying it had not yet been approved.
The IPC released the following :
This afternoon (Friday 4 October 2019) a Statement of Reasons for Decision, Development Consent and media release were published on the Independent Planning Commission’s website indicating that a determination had been made in respect of the Rix’s Creek South Continuation of Mining Project (SSD 6300).
That material has now been removed from the Commission’s website, as the Commission has determined that the purported determination was not valid.
As such, no determination of this state significant development application has yet been made.
With 300 people employed at the mine and six years of waiting on a decision there are a lot of people not happy with the blunder that is due to an administrative error in that the period for public comment on some additional information had not lapsed.
“They gave approval, lifted the hopes of all of the employees at Rix’s Creek and then within hours took it away which is nothing more than a complete and utter administrative blunder,” said Upper Hunter MP and Parliamentary Secretary for Resources Michael Johnsen.
“When you add this on top of other administrative blunders that have happened with the IPC such as the Wambo case where a Commissioner pulled out at five minutes to midnight declaring a conflict of interest, they should’ve known all of that well before all of that and not inconvenience people,”
“So basically what I’m suggesting is that administratively they can’t get their process right so how then can we rely on their ability to make proper decisions.”
“I’m calling on them to be disbanded and the government should take control of the planning of the state significant developments as people in NSW expect the government to do,” he said.
“Now that doesn’t mean to say that government should be making decisions based not on the best possible expert advice but even in this latest case of the IPC, expert advice from 14 government departments have said we recommend approval with approval but nevertheless we recommend approval and three causal part time people decided that they are more knowledgeable than the experts and decided to knock back the proposal, now that is the decision but the administrative side of things has been just as much of a debacle and they should go.”
Michael Johnsen added that the Premier, Deputy Premier and Planning Minister have all indicated a review will take place into the IPC.
“I’m calling on some change to be made to the system and the processes before the end of the sitting year,” said Michael Johnsen.
The NSW Minerals Council is far from pleased as well releasing a statement from their CEO Stephen Galilee.
"The IPC granted consent for the project today and published this outcome and an official 'statement of reasons' on its website, only to withdraw the consent within a matter of hours due to an administrative issue relating to the assessment process."
"It just beggars belief that the IPC could issue an approval for a major project involving 300 jobs and then be forced to withdraw the approval just hours later due to an internal stuff-up."
"300 people have been waiting six years to find out if their jobs were secure into the future. Today they received good news, only to have the certainty they had been hoping for taken away from them again hours later."
"Projects like this involve massive investment and affect thousands of people. What should have been good news for NSW has turned diabolical, and once again the reputation of our state as an investment destination has been damaged."
Image credit: The Bloomfield Group