May 31, 2017
Farmers will be rejoicing following a decision in the Queensland Land Court on Wednesday which effectively axed the controversial Stage 3 expansion of Acland Coal Mine.
The judgment was handed down after the longest hearing in the 120-year history of the Land Court.
It recommended that Mines Minister Anthony Lynham and other government authorities formally reject the mining leases and environmental authorities for New Hope’s $900 million proposed expansion, saying the project could damage groundwater for farmers for hundreds of years.
“Groundwater considerations are such that the revised Stage 3 project should not proceed given the risks to the surrounding landholders and the poor state of the current model,” the judgment reads.
The ruling also considered noise levels, dust and air quality issues, and koala habitat.
The expansion would have almost doubled production at the mine from 4.6 million tonnes a year to 7.6 million tonnes, and extended the life of the mine by about 12 years.
New Hope had claimed there would have been ongoing employment for 435 people at the expanded mine.
Anti-mining group Lock The Gate described the result as a “huge win for farmers”.
It congratulated the Oakey Coal Action Alliance and other objectors for their ongoing campaign against the project.
This campaign has involved a number of expensive legal actions.
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington became embroiled in the saga when she revealed in February 2012 that the LNP would not support a Stage 3 expansion, particularly if the mine encroached on Strategic Cropping Land.
However, after the State Election, the LNP government gave a revised and smaller Stage 3 plan its support.
The ALP made an election commitment to hold an independent review into the effect of the Stage 3 proposal on the local community.
Lock The Gate said it was now time for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to finally reject the mine.