Another win for the New South Wales environment! Coal mine expansion denied on appeal

Today, the NSW Court of Appeal dismissed Ashton Coal’s appeal to overturn a 2014 ruling of the Land and Environment Court that required the company to obtain prior permission to access a farm property before expanding its open cut coal mine near Camberwell in the Hunter Valley. 

20 November 2015

The Hunter Environment Lobby, represented by community legal centre EDO NSW, successfully defended the coal company’s appeal by arguing that the conditions laid out in the 2014 decision were an important safeguard for minimising the adverse environmental and social impacts of the mine’s expansion.

In the 2014 decision, the Land and Environment Court found that approval could be granted for the mine’s expansion, but only on condition that Ashton purchased, leased or gained permission from Mrs Wendy Bowman to access her farm. The property, which would be totally consumed by the mine’s expansion, is critical not just for the company to access the coal, but also to properly manage the mine’s impacts to ground and surface water. The company cannot compulsorily acquire her land.

Mrs Bowman has lived and farmed in and around the Camberwell area for most of her life. She belongs to the family who settled in the area in the late 1880s and who have been dairy farming there ever since. She has said that she does not intend to sell her property to the mining company.

“This decision reinforces the importance of court-enforced conditions designed to protect our environment,” EDO NSW Principal Solicitor Sue Higginson said. “It’s a timely reminder of how our laws can foster ecologically sustainable development. So often we need our laws to strike a balance between economic and ecological needs.”

Bev Smiles, of Hunter Environment Lobby, said “We’re delighted the Court of Appeal has upheld the conditions established by the Land and Environment Court. The condition about Wendy’s property is really important – it shows that communities can have a voice in big developments such as this. We’d like to thank EDO NSW for all their help in securing this decision.”

EDO NSW is grateful to barristers Robert White and Mark Seymour for representing the Hunter Environment Lobby in the Court of Appeal.

More background on this case can be found here.

Media enquiries: Sue Higginson, 0428 227 363 or Chris Madden (02) 9017 3907