Community granted access to information on groundwater regulation at Werris Creek coal mine

Community group Quipolly Water Action Group was today granted access to documents on the regulation of groundwater at Whitehaven Coal’s Werris Creek coal mine near the Liverpool Plains in north-west New South Wales.

24 November 2016

Members of the community are worried about the mine’s impact on groundwater – and particularly on the Quipolly Creek, which is near the mine. With this decision, the public will have access to key documents showing how the mine’s groundwater impacts are being managed, and will be able to determine whether the Department of Industry’s measures meet community expectations. 

The decision to grant community access to the documents was made by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). Previous attempts by Quipolly Water Action Group to access the information were refused by NSW Department of Primary Industries Water (DPI Water), on the grounds that the information was ‘commercial’ and therefore sensitive. The NSW Information Commissioner found that this position was not justified, but the Commissioner’s finding was not binding. That left little choice for the Group but to take the matter to NCAT. 

“Naturally we’re delighted for our client. The local community will now be able to find out how well their groundwater is being protected,” said Sue Higginson, Chief Executive Officer, EDO NSW. “But this is a significant win for everyone in New South Wales. With the release of this information, we’ll gain invaluable insight into the ways that DPI Water regulates the impacts of coal mines across the State.” 

“Groundwater is such a vital resource. It’s absolutely imperative that the community knows what affect mines are having on groundwater and how the government is regulating those impacts.” 

More background on this case can be found at EDO NSW’s website

Media enquiries: Sue Higginson 0428 227 363 or Chris Madden (02) 9262 6989, media@edonsw.org.au