NEW plans for the controversial T4 coal-loader on Kooragang Island show an almost half-sized terminal but with a bigger workforce than originally planned.
Consultants for the Rio Tinto-managed Port Waratah Coal Services have responded to nearly 500 submissions on T4 in a 488-page ‘‘preferred project report’’, expected to be made public next week by the NSW Department of Planning.
Because the coal industry is growing more slowly than expected, the T4 loader has been ‘‘de-triggered’’ – meaning PWCS is no longer contractually obliged to provide the terminal for the coal industry.
Against the wishes of many activists, however, PWCS is still seeking state government approval for T4, and the preferred project report is the next stage in that process.
The Hunter Community Environment Centre says it is fighting the project and looks forward to Planning Assessment Commission hearings in Newcastle later this year.
‘‘Between now and the end of October, we will be co-ordinating expert advice to develop the strongest case possible for the state government to reject T4,’’ spokesman Paul Winn said.
‘‘T4 would have devastating impacts on community health and the environment and we expect the commissioners will hear arguments against it from public health professionals, ecologists and other experts."
PWCS is now seeking approval for capacity of up to 70million tonnes a year, with ‘‘staging and size of staging ... subject to project approval, demand and commercial requirements’’.
But it says another application to lift capacity to the original 120million tonnes a year could be made if demand was sufficient.
In other changes, the maximum number of coal stockpiles has been cut from seven to four. The maximum number of rail tracks has been cut from eight to four, and the number of coal dump stations from four to two.
The new wharves are all on the Kooragang side of the river but wharves on the steelworks side are still expected if T4 was to handle 120million tonnes a year.
The report provides new detail on three sites being offered as environmental offsets: 409hectares at Ellalong, 238hectares at Tomago and 204hectares at Brundee, near Nowra, for green and gold bell frogs.