Lobby: Mine review time too brief

A GREEN group has hit out over the timing of public consultation for the Colton mine's environmental management plan, launching a last-minute bid yesterday to have the deadline extended.

Wide Bay Burnett Environment Council spokeswoman Emma-Kate Currie said opponents of the New Hope coalmine found out only last week that a public notice had been placed the week before Christmas calling for submissions on the controversial project's environmental management plan.

"The public submission period was open for only 16 business days over the Christmas period, leaving all relevant stakeholders with limited time to draft submissions to the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM)," Ms Currie said.

"It is simply unacceptable for DERM to allow for only 16 business days to make submissions."

Ms Currie called for acting Environment Minister Rachel Nolan to extend the dead-line, and she left messages with the minister's office but had no response.

"There was no provision for parties to be notified other than that ad that went in the week before Christmas," Ms Currie said.

"It's a very strange time to do it and makes you wonder whether they are pushing to have it done before they call the state election.

"We were aware there would be a public submission period coming up, but we thought it would be in February."

A spokesman for New Hope/Northern Energy Corporation said the company had held a number of meetings with interested parties of the Colton Coal Project over the past two years.

"A briefing invitation was sent to several environmental groups in the region last December and they either declined or did not respond," she said.

DERM is reviewing the Environmental Management Plan, which the spokeswoman said contained extensive independent studies showing the project would not negatively affect the environment.

DERM was approached for comment but did not respond in time for publication.

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