Media Releases · Access to Justice

Acland farmers fight to save groundwater rights, file Supreme Court appeal

30 May, 2018

EDO Qld client Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA) has today appealed to the Court of Appeal against the expansion of the controversial New Acland Coal (NAC) mine in prime agricultural land on the Darling Downs. Read the media release issued by EDO Qld, legal representation for OCAA, on 30 May 2018.

EDO Qld client Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA) has today appealed to the Court of Appeal against the expansion of the controversial New Acland Coal (NAC) mine in prime agricultural land on the Darling Downs.

The appeal relates to a Supreme Court decision made earlier this month that would see groundwater impacts no longer allowed to be considered in some mining objection hearings.

NAC’s mine expansion application first commenced in 2007 and was rejected by the Newman government in 2012, stating it was ‘inappropriate’ to expand the mine in the State’s southern food bowl.

A revised application lodged in 2015 was recommended for refusal by the Land Court in 2017 following a 99-day hearing which found that, among other things:

  1. the land around Acland was amongst the best 1.5% of agricultural land in Queensland;
  2. there were major shortcomings with the groundwater impact predictions, such that the Stage 3 should not proceed given the risks to the surrounding landholders; and
  3. a stricter night time noise limit should be applied than that currently proposed.

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) followed the Land Court’s recommendation to refuse the environmental approval on 14 February 2018. In June 2017 the mining company applied to the Supreme Court for a judicial review of the Land Court decision.

EDO Qld CEO Jo Bragg said: “Today OCAA has appealed the Supreme Court decision, arguing that groundwater impacts should be able to be considered in mining objection hearings.

“The Supreme Court did not dispute the factual findings of the Land Court hearing, but found that the Land Court should not have considered groundwater impacts and should reconsider noise impacts.

“The Supreme Court decision has wider implications which would exclude groundwater considerations from all mining objection hearings where a separate application for an Associated Water Licence is required.

“This separate application would mean groundwater impacts would not have to be assessed against the principles of sustainable development, including intergenerational equity.”

OCAA now has 28 days to file arguments and materials before a hearing date is listed in the Court of Appeals.

Media contact - EDO Qld CEO Jo Bragg - 07 3211 4466

Media materials: High quality aerial shots and photos of farmers are available. There is also raw drone over coal mine and coal pile footage. Please also refer to EDO Qld’s website for detailed background information including profiles of farmers.