Rio Tinto’s Mount Thorley Warkworth mine expansion got the green light last week, it has now been revealed the Federal Government began moves to protect the Hunter Valley woodland the day prior to approval.
With the mine approved by the Planning Assessment Commission last Friday, the Nature Conservation Council said the day before, the Commonwealth called for public comment on a plan to list the Warkworth Sands Woodlands as a threatened ecological community.
Council CEO Kate Smolski said the timing of the announcement raises serious questions.
“We’re incredibly concerned that the PAC has moved ahead and made a decision and now the Federal Government is coming out and calling for comment on whether or not this area should be listed as an endangered ecological community and afforded critical protections under federal law,” she said.
“That’s about as useful as sending an ambulance to a funeral.”
The Nature Conservation Council is demanding answers over the timing of the mine’s approval, just as moves began to protect the Warkworth Sands Woodland.
Ms Smolski said the last minute bid to save the woodlands seems to contradict previous decisions.
“The State and Federal Governments are clearly not coordinating on needing to protect our natural assets.
“On one hand you have the Commonwealth calling for comment about the threat to this endangered ecological community, and on the other hand the NSW Government has basically signed its death warrant by approving the Rio Tinto mine.”