Lester v Ashton Coal Pty Limited

In this case, Mr Lester, a Traditional Owner of the lands of the Wonnarua people in the Hunter Valley, brought civil proceedings, arguing that Ashton Coal Operations Pty Limited (‘Ashton Coal’) breached the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NSW) by harming Aboriginal objects through subsidence at two locations and the construction of an access road by another mining company over a Pleistocene site that was subject to Ashton Coal's Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit.

The land in question is located near Camberwell in the Hunter Valley and the objects included artefact sites, archaeological deposits and grinding grooves. For this damage, Mr Lester sought a declaration from the Land and Environment Court that Ashton Coal breached the Act and an order for the objects to be stored in a keeping place to be managed by the Wonnarua people. The Court dismissed the case, finding that there was insufficient evidence that Ashton Coal was in breach of the Act. Mr Lester has now lodged a notice of intention to appeal the decision.

Mr Lester was represented by EDO NSW and Barrister Ms Bridie Nolan. EDO NSW would like to thanks Ms Nolan for her assistance in this matter.