NSW Deputy Prime Minister recommends that the government “exclude” the opening of a new coal exploration zone

New South Wales Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole says he does not support the creation of new coal exploration zones in the central west of the state, and would recommend that his government do not either.

The Hawkins and Rumker areas north of Rylstone have been earmarked by the state government for new coal mines.

About 30,000 acres of land have been identified as potentially suitable for exploration

Public consultation on the proposal began in June, before Mr Toole took over from former Nationals leader John Barilaro.

More than 2,500 public submissions were received, of which only 15 supported the plan to create new investigation zones.

This is happening in the midst of plans to halve carbon emissions in NSW by 2030.

A map of the central west with the areas marked in red.
The proposal would see areas in the NSW central west opened up for tender for coal exploration.(Delivered by: NSW Government)

Today, Mr Toole told a budget estimate hearing in the state legislature that he would ask the Cabinet not to support the project.

Community opposition to the project is strong, and Green MP Cate Faehrmann said a protest was planned.

Mrs Faehrmann asked Toole if he had planned to announce his opposition to the proposal before today’s hearing.

“I formed an opinion before budget estimates in relation to the project in question,” he replied.

People standing in front of a hall with the sign "Rylstone Shire Memorial Hall" holding yellow signs that say "lock the door"
There is considerable opposition in the community to the proposal, and the hearing said a protest is planned this weekend.(ABC Central West: Hugh Hogan)

Sir. Toole described the area, some of which was in his Bathurst constituency, as “beautiful” and said he regularly drove through it.

“This is still in line with our government’s commitment to the future of coal declaration – recognizing that coal must be deployed in the areas that are appropriate.

Aimed for export

The Hawkins and Rumker areas are two of eight zones earmarked by the state government that could potentially turn into new coal mines.

If the Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment (DPIE) Advisory Board gave the green light to the proposal, Mr. Toole asked companies to bid on rights to discover how resourceful the area was.

The zones are the first to go through the ‘strategic coal discharge areas’, which aim to ensure that the fossil fuel industry continues to provide jobs for regional areas.

The plan from the NSW government said the state “is well placed to meet the demand for coal from countries at our doorstep”, but the global phasing out of the resource “will take some decades to complete”.

The coal that was eventually extracted from the new release zones was tipped to export markets, primarily Asian countries such as China and South Korea.

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