A mining company has dumped its plans to transport coal on public roads in western Lake Macquarie, saying "considerable community angst" to an expected 62,500 annual truck movements had forced its hand.
Centennial confirmed on Wednesday it had withdrawn its applications with the NSW Department of Planning which proposed moving coal between its Myuna Colliery and a site close to Eraring power station where coal from its nearby Mandalong mine comes to the surface.
The modification to existing planning approvals was proposed last year as a way of overcoming issues with the quality of coal out of Myuna.
Coal from the pit would have been mixed with a better-quality product from Mandalong before being used by the power station.
"Ongoing discussions with Origin Energy have resulted in the necessity of seeking to transport coal by trucks along public roads as not required at this stage," a Centennial spokesperson said.
"While meeting Origin Energy's coal quality requirements remains challenging, Centennial acknowledges the considerable community angst this proposal generated.
"Therefore, the applications to transfer coal between Myuna and Northern Coal Services have been withdrawn."
Centennial had been yet to respond to more than 70 submissions, including one from Transport for NSW which refused to offer its support and asked why "potential alternatives" were "not practicable or feasible".
Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said the plan to run trucks on Wangi and Awaba roads caused "understandable anguish" with locals and the proposal's withdrawal was a "victory for the community and common sense".
"I'm really happy that Centennial has found a better way of doing things," he said.
"While I'm grateful to Centennial for listening to us and working towards this outcome, I'm also really grateful to the local community who signed the petition and demanded better."
The standard of coal required for use in the power station has dictated where Centennial has mined at Myuna since it proposed the modification and will continue to do so.
Myuna, which began operating in 1982, supplies the Eraring power station only via a direct conveyor. Eraring, which can accept coal from other suppliers via rail, is scheduled to close in 2032.
Centennial has applied to extend the life of its nearby Newstan Colliery by 15 years, a project that would extract 25.9 million tonnes of coal and create up to 320 jobs.
If approved and it proceeds, most coal is expected to be exported but could be used to supply the Eraring and Vales Point power stations.
Mr Piper said the resumption of operations at the mine would be a "good thing" for local jobs, but market forces would ultimately determine the coal industry's future.
"Inexorably, there will be a decline in the coal export market over time, but while ever there's a market and the mining of coal in Lake Macquarie is underground, I will support the industry," he said.
"The Newstan mine was running in the local area for many years before it was mothballed a few years ago.
"These mines require a massive investment in infrastructure so it makes sense for them to be reopened when demand for coal returns, as opposed to building and opening new mines from scratch."
Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser welcomed Centennial's decision to abandon the truck-haulage plan.
"I am pleased with today's announcement from Centennial and their proactive response to the community's concerns," she said.
"Lake Macquarie has many exciting projects in the city which will contribute to a diverse and sustainable economy, supporting our community now and in the future, and Centennial remains an important part of that."
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