THE head of the company behind the proposal to turn Ardlethan’s abandoned tin mine into a landfill believes the staunch opposition it has encountered isn’t indicative of public opinion about the project.
Responding to criticism of the planned development since it was announced earlier this year, Ardlethan Environmental Solutions (AES) director Peter Francis said opposition to the landfill had surprised the company.
“It has been a bit of a surprise and a bit of a disappointment, especially since it’s so early in the piece – the dimensions of the project haven’t been finalised and the environmental impact statement hasn’t been put on display,” he said.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there. We think the silent majority will be in favour of the proposal.”
Community outrage about the proposed landfill has built steadily since the plan went public.
A meeting last month at the Ardlethan Memorial Hall of residents concerned about the proposed landfill drew a crowd of close to 200 people.
A key concern of opponents to the landfill has been its potential impact on the water table and surrounding aquifers.
Mr Francis, however, said the project simply wouldn’t go ahead if AES was unable to prove a landfill on the old mine site would leave the area’s water supplies unspoiled.
“If there are any risks to the aquifers, the proposal will not be approved by the Department of Planning,” Mr Francis said.
“We have to demonstrate what we have in mind will not have any risk to the water table.”
However, a vocal opponent of the landfill proposal has expressed concerns that check and balance may not be sufficient to protect water supplies surrounding the mine site.
Renee Doyle, a landholder near the mine who organised last month’s meeting, said the science on the hydrology couldn’t prove beyond doubt the water table would be affected, claiming the Werris Creek mine in northern NSW had impacted groundwater there despite reports assuring it wouldn’t.
“At Werris Creek, they said they would never impact groundwater, and yet they started operating and what have they done? Dropped the groundwater level far below what their reports said would happen,” Ms Doyle said.
The proposed landfill’s environmental impact statement is set to be made public in February next year.
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