Local grazier Frank Ashman said the decision to go ahead with legal objection was difficult but necessary given the severe impacts the project would have on the environment and community.
EDO Qld is the legal representation for community group Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA) who will be taking legal action against the New Acland Coal Stage 3 coal expansion in Queensland’s Darling Downs.
On behalf of OCAA, a group including local farmers and residents who will be directly affected by the proposed mine expansion, EDO Qld lodged a formal objection to the environmental authority for the New Hope Coal-owned project on 2 October 2015.
OCAA President and local grazier Frank Ashman said the decision to go ahead with legal objection was difficult but necessary given the severe impacts the project would have on the environment and community.
“Our case will be that the expansion should not proceed due to unacceptable impacts such as on groundwater resources, important farming land and the health of local families,” Mr Ashman, who expects groundwater to his nearby farm to be severely impacted by the project, said.
EDO Qld Acting Principal Solicitor Andrew Kwan said the hearing of objections in the Land Court, which is acknowledged by proponents as part of the approvals process, would be used to independently examine the costs and benefits of the mine expansion in detail.
“While the public can make submissions during the application stages of these proposals, that process cannot replace the importance of testing of expert evidence in the Land Court,” Mr Kwan said.
“The Land Court will also be making a recommendation about whether the required mining leases should be granted, in addition to the environmental authority.
“Separate to the court process, the proponent still needs to obtain a Regional Interests Development Approval due to impacts on strategic cropping land and on a priority agricultural area.
“As always, EDO Qld and our client will pursue the process in a just and efficient process in pursuing this appeal in the public interest.”
At a glance, impacts of Acland Stage 3 coal expansion include the:
- disturbance of 1,300 hectares of strategic cropping land in the Darling Downs;
- drawdown of groundwater aquifers by up to 47-metres at the mine, with some aquifers expecting to be affected up to 23 kilometres away; and
- reduction of air quality for local residents and farmers, many of whom already live with degraded air quality from the current mine’s operations.
A date for an initial directions hearing is yet to be set by the Land Court of Queensland.
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For more information on community group OCAA, please visit their website.
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