EDO Qld and Barristers Saul Holt QC and Dr Chris McGrath represented Oakey Coal Action Alliance Inc (OCAA) at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Brisbane on 27 February 2019 to 1 March 2019. The appeal seeks to overturn the 2018 Supreme Court decision that would see groundwater impacts no longer allowed to be considered in some mining objection hearings.
Update March 2019:
EDO Qld and Barristers Saul Holt QC and Dr Chris McGrath represented Oakey Coal Action Alliance Inc (OCAA) at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Brisbane on 27 February 2019 to 1 March 2019.
This appeal follows the Land Court’s historic decision in 2017 to recommend refusal of New Acland Coal Pty Ltd’s (NAC’s) proposed Stage 3 expansion of the New Acland Coal mine, and the Supreme Court’s judicial review of the Land Court’s decision decided in 2018.
Oakey Coal Action Alliance Inc. asked the Supreme Court of Appeal to determine whether the Land Court has jurisdiction to consider groundwater when hearing mining objections under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 and the Environmental Protection Act 1994.
Predicted groundwater impacts of the Stage 3 expansion were a key reason for the Land Court recommending refusal, but the Supreme Court then decided groundwater was not a relevant consideration of the Land Court objections hearing.
New Acland Coal Pty Ltd argued, amongst other things, that a fair-minded lay observer might reasonably apprehend from the Land Court’s reasons that the Land Court Member might have been affected by bias against NAC.
No further comments will be made as this matter is still before the Court.
Update September 2018:
Barrister Dr Chris McGrath, supported by EDO Qld, appeared at the review hearing in the Court of Appeal on 5 September 2018. A number of procedural dates were set in preparation for the hearing for the appeal and cross appeal listed for 27-28 February 2019.
On 13 June 2018, New Acland Coal Pty Ltd filed its contention to OCAA’s appeal in the Queensland Court of Appeal on multiple grounds.
The appeal relates to a 2018 Supreme Court decision 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:
- the land around Acland was amongst the best 1.5% of agricultural land in Queensland;
- 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
- 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.