Berrima mine expansion may go back before the Court

The Land and Environment Court today overturned a previous decision refusing a coal mine expansion in Sydney’s drinking water catchment.

2 December 2013

A Judge of the Land and Environment Court upheld an appeal by Boral Cement and the NSW Government against the previous decision by Commissioners of the Court to refuse the proposal near Berrima in the Southern Highlands.

 The expansion would involve a doubling of coal output from the Berrima mine to 460,000 tonnes per year and continue operations for another eight years.

The case against the mine expansion was bought by a Southern Highlands community group due to concerns about the impacts increased mining would have on groundwater and biodiversity, and the Wingecarribee River in Sydney’s drinking water catchment. The group was represented by EDO NSW.

The Commissioners of the Court originally refused the mine expansion, finding there was insufficient data to rule out an adverse impact from mining discharges on the Wingecarribee River.

They also refused the project on the basis that it would have unreasonable impacts on the local community in terms of air and noise pollution and the substantial increase in heavy vehicle traffic.

Today, the Judge of the Land and Environment Court held that Commissioners of the Court made errors in their decision. These primarily relate to the process of reasoning reflected in the written judgment and also that the parties were not provided the opportunity to address certain issues such as traffic.

The Judge ordered the matter go back to different Commissioners to determine the matter again. The Judge also emphasised throughout the decision that new Commissioners may well come to similar conclusions on the merits of the matter as the previous Commissioners who had refused the project.

 Earlier this year, Boral Cement announced it would be stopping production at the Berrima colliery and putting the mine in a “care and maintenance” mode.

 FOR MORE INFORMATION:  Jon Walter jon.walter@edonsw.org.au or telephone (02) 90173906