Court rejects new Coal Mine in NSW

8 Feb 2019

In a landmark ruling, Chief Justice Brian Preston of the land and environment court dismissed an appeal by Gloucester Resources to overturn a NSW Government decision to reject an open cut mine. The mine was to be built just outside the NSW town of Gloucester (north of Newcastle).

“I have determined that GRL’s development application for the Rocky Hill Coal Project should be refused. The mine will have significant adverse impacts on the visual amenity and rural and scenic character of the valley, significant adverse social impacts on the community and particular demographic groups in the area, and significant impacts on the existing, approved and likely preferred uses of land in the vicinity of the mine. The construction and operation of the mine, and the transportation and combustion of the coal from the mine, will result in the emission of greenhouse gases, which will contribute to climate change. These are direct and indirect impacts of the mine. The costs of this open cut coal mine, exploiting the coal resource at this location in a scenic valley close to town, exceed the benefits of the mine, which are primarily economic and social. Development consent should be refused.”

The appeal was overturned by Preston because the mine “would be in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

“Wrong place because an open cut coal mine in this scenic and cultural landscape, proximate to many people’s homes and farms, will cause significant planning, amenity, visual and social impacts,” he wrote.Image result for gloucester, nsw

“Wrong time because the GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions of the coal mine and its coal product will increase global total concentrations of GHGs at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in GHG emissions. These dire consequences should be avoided. The project should be refused.”

Although Gloucester Resources argued that the mine should be allowed as new emissions would be offset by other emissions reduction schemes, the the Chief Justice wrote:

“It matters not that the aggregate of the project’s greenhouse gas emissions may represent a small fraction of the global total.”

“The global problem of climate change needs to be addressed by multiple local actions to mitigate emissions by sources and remove greenhouse gases by sinks.”

“There is no evidence before the court of any specific and certain action to ‘net out’ the GHG emissions of the project.”

“A consent authority cannot rationally approve a development that is likely to have some identified environmental impact on the theoretical possibility that the environmental impact will be mitigated or offset by some unspecified and uncertain action at some unspecified and uncertain time in the future.”

The full ruling is available HERE