WHITEHAVEN Coal's proposed Vickery Extension project has been given the go-ahead with a raft of strict conditions.
On Wednesday morning, the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) gave the green light for the $607 million project near Boggabri with 184 conditions to help mitigate against environmental and social impacts.
The IPC's decision comes after it hosted two days of public hearings into the project last month, which were chaired by commissioners John Hann, professor Chris Fell and professor Zada Lipman.
In a statement, the IPC said the project had been approved after several key issues including water resources, greenhouse gas emissions and socio-economic impacts were considered.
"The commission finds that on balance, and when weighed against the objects of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, ecologically sustainable development principles, relevant policy framework, and socio-economic benefits, the impacts associated with the project are acceptable and the project is in the public interest," the statement read.
"The commission acknowledges that the project would result in additional environmental and amenity impacts associated with the increased disturbance footprint and additional mining-related infrastructure when compared to the approved project.
"On balance, the commission finds that the environmental and amenity impacts of the project are not significantly greater than those associated with the approved project.
"The commission is of the view that the additional environmental and amenity impacts can be appropriately managed and mitigated in accordance with the applicable guidelines and policies."
The IPC has imposed 184 conditions on the project to ensure it complies with the relevant criteria and is consistent with the predictions in the company's environmental impact statement.
"The commission finds that the project would generate significant social and economic benefits for the local area, North West region and to NSW," the statement read.
"This includes a direct capital investment of $607 million and up to 450 jobs during operations."
The decision comes a day after the NSW Resources Regulator launched prosecution proceedings against Whitehaven subsidiaries Narrabri Coal and Narrabri Coal Operations in the NSW Land and Environment Court for alleged breaches of the state's mining laws.
"The commission received submissions raising the applicant's regulatory compliance history and submissions suggesting that the applicant was not a fit and proper person in respect of the project," the statement read.
"The commission notes that there is no fit and proper person test in respect of development consents and that matters such as the identity of an applicant or past planning law breaches have been found to be irrelevant considerations for consent authorities such as the commission."