Coastwatchers Association Inc & South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA) v Minister for Planning & Another

February 2012

EDO NSW acted for the Coastwatchers Association and South East Region Conservation Alliance (“SERCA”), in their appeal against the Planning Assessment Commission's decision to approve an application by Big Island Mining Pty Ltd to establish and operate a gold mine near Majors Creek, NSW.

The mine was ultimately approved in February following negotiations between the parties that led to a better environmental outcome than if the original approval had not been appealed.

The new safeguards include an improved design for the tailings dam which addressed concerns that high rainfall events would cause the dam to overflow. The new design features incorporate the need to consider the Possible Maximum Flood level for the region.

In addition, there will be biannual monitoring of steam health and channel stability in Spring Creek and Majors Creek; all monitoring, major incident reports and other relevant information must be made public within 28 days; there will be measures to prevent birds and animals from entering the tailings dam; there will be an offsite biodiversity offset to protect additional areas of the Tablelands Basalt Forest endangered ecological community; and safeguards to make sure that any water released from the old workings will not have a negative impact on the water quality of Majors Creek. There will also be further consultation with indigenous stakeholders.

All water users downstream of the project can now register to be informed of the results of monitoring, or of any major incidents on the site.

EDO NSW is grateful to barrister C Ireland for his assistance in this matter.

Judgment