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The New South Wales Government has released its Illawarra-Shoalhaven regional plan 2036, which factors in the challenges coal developments face in the future.

The region is home to five underground colliery holdings, with three having planning approvals beyond 2030, and is partially located in New South Wales’ Southern Coalfield, which is the only hard coking coal source in the state.

According to the plan, current and future residential developments are located near the Dendrobium, Wongawilli, Russell Vale and metropolitan collieries.

“Balancing the ability of these mines to continue to operate, and any future extraction of resources, with the expectations of current and future residents remains an ongoing challenge,” the plan stated.

The New South Wales Government has pledged to consider the protection of existing collieries’ ongoing operation, along with future development of known resources when assessing rezoning proposals .

Management and protection of the Sydney drinking water catchment and the impact of coal mining on water supply has also been taken into consideration.

Around 20 per cent of the Illawarra-Shoalhaven region is located in the Sydney drinking water catchment area, which supplies drinking water to 60 per cent of the state’s population.

According to the plan, coal mining and coal seem gas extraction “have the potential to affect water supply, security and infrastructure, and the ecological integrity of the Sydney drinking water catchment special areas”, as continued assessment and regulation will be conducted to manage these risks.

The plan also plans to increase the capacity of the port of Port Kembla, which exports coal and contributes $418 million to the regional economy annually.

The upgrade is set to provide a link between the southwest and western coal miners and the eastern seaboard.

The Illwarra-Shoalhaven regional plan 2036 is currently receiving submissions from the public.