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2TM Regional News

Whitehaven Coal's offer to 'pay-away' prosecution declined

Whitehaven Coal will face court on Friday 11th December for 19 alleged offences despite trying to pay their way out of the prosecution.

Narrabri Coal and Narrabri Coal Operations, subsidiaries of Whitehaven, submitted an offer to the state's regulator to pay $542,500 instead of facing the court.

The payment included $150,000 to Gunnedah Shire Council, $50,000 to their lobby group the NSW Minerals Council, a further $50,000 to the Australian Wildlife Conservancy Fund and the largest amount of $203,500 to cover the cost of the investigation.

The NSW Resource Regulator has declined the offer and will proceed with the prosecution which if successful could amount to over $19 million in fines.

The offer, known as an enforceable undertaking, is a legal option available to companies accused of breaking the law, that aims to resolve the behaviour and rectify the consequences of the conduct.

Whitehaven's Narrabri operator is accused of illegally clearing areas in the Pilliga State Forest, illegal drilling and insufficient rehabilitation between 2015 to 2018.

Anthony Keon, Executive Director, NSW Resources Regulator said in a statement the offending behaviour is significant and at the higher end of the scale, therefore a strong need for deterrence remains.

Mr Keon continued by saying, "I am not satisfied that the proposed undertaking will deliver such deterrence. Nor am I satisfied as to the merits of certain projects put forward under the undertaking proposal."

The NSW Resource Regulator has only ever rejected one other undertaking offer since 2016.


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