WHITEHAVEN Coal's top boss has vowed to do all he can to help preserve the former home of one of Australia's most famous poets.
During the opening day of the NSW Independent Planning Commission's final public hearing into the Vickery Extension Project, Whitehaven's chief executive officer Paul Flynn was asked by panel chairman John Hann what plans the company had for preservation of Dorothea Mackellar's family home Kurrumbede.
"It's obviously an important feature for the local community and the country as a whole," Mr Flynn said.
"We take that very seriously.
"There will be a heritage assessment and a plan put in place to ensure none of the operations of the Vickery Extension Project have a negative impact on the facility."
Mr Flynn's comments come after submissions by various community groups including the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society regarding the future of the site, which is owned by Whitehaven Coal.
"We have a good relationship with the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society, with whom we are liaising in terms of how to not only protect and improve the homestead, but how to open it for public use from time to time," Mr Flynn said.
"We have committed half a million dollars to improve the grounds as they currently stand so that we can welcome people onto the site.
"I think the government itself has concluded that the arrangement's we have put in place will be sufficient to protect the homestead."
Society member Philippa Murray told the hearing the company was yet to give a "firm and definitive commitment to the preservation and maintenance of the homestead and surrounds".
"This is what the society and I believe the community at large would like to see," Ms Murray said.
"In the initial proposal, the proponent was talking about using the homestead as offices, that has changed somewhat and it is now tenanted by an employee, which is a great thing because it is actually being cared for.
"We are not proposing it as a museum, but certainly the exterior of the house and surrounds are open to the public where we could perhaps hold events."
The historic Kurrumbede property is said to be the inspiration for Mackellar's most famous poem My Country.
During the hearing, Mr Flynn also addressed concerns raised about water security around the proposed extension site.
"We're quite comfortable that the depth of the market for water trading is there," he said.
"During 2019 we observed about 5000 to 7000 megalitres were traded during that period, so there is quite a deep market for water trading."
- The hearings will be broadcast on the IPC's website www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/livestream