Help us defend communities on the front line
Climate change is one of the most formidable challenges of our time.
The science is clear. The danger is very real. The stakes are high. We must act.
The Climate Institute, 2017
Right now, communities across NSW stand on the front line against mining giants, fighting for their homes and our future. They urgently need us, and I need you to help us provide access to justice and advance the law.
Right now, my team is preparing two new climate litigation cases to go before the Court. We are defending community groups in Gloucester and on the Central Coast as they defend their land, water, farms, towns and wild places against two mine projects that will not only have serious social and environmental impacts locally, but also contribute to dangerous climate change.
Neither mine project is in the public interest. Both have previously been rejected, leaving the people most affected – our clients and their communities – fighting for over a decade. In Gloucester they’re up against both Gloucester Resources Ltd and Australia’s largest coal producer, Yancoal.
Access to justice is a fundamental tenet of our democracy. It’s about everyone being equal under the law. As you can imagine, these mining companies’ deep pockets allow them to fund legal teams and experts that would intimidate most people. But your donation will help empower our clients as they stand up to the opponents threatening their livelihoods and future, no matter who they are up against.
Make a tax-deductible donation today to help EDO get the best outcomes for the communities we serve.
In December 2017, the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) set an excellent precedent by refusing consent for the Rocky Hill mine, stating that the economic benefits were outweighed by “the detriment to the quality of life for residents near the mine site. In balancing both the benefits and adverse impacts, the Commission finds that the project is not in the public interest.” The community breathed a huge sigh of relief.
However in February this year, the Gloucester community was devastated to discover that GRL and Yancoal had been able to use merit appeal rights to file an appeal against the PAC’s decision. These same rights are consistently stripped from communities arguing against coal mine approvals by the Planning Minister.
In August we are representing long-suffering local community group, Groundswell Gloucester, in their efforts to ensure the PAC’s decision is upheld by the Land and Environment Court. Our opponents have very deep pockets.
Your donations to our Environmental Defence Fund support us to provide legal solutions to the biggest challenges of our time and give our clients access to justice. Please help us reach our $100,000 target by making a tax-deductible gift before June 30. Every gift will help us get there.
Meanwhile, this January, residents of the NSW Central Coast were horrified to learn that, despite being knocked back twice over the past 22 years due to the risk of serious and irreversible damage to the drinking water catchment, a new underground coal mine had been approved, right in their backyard.
This zombie project is Wallarah 2, slated to operate for 28 years. Approving the construction and operation of this new coalmine in the midst of valuable agricultural land - in the heart of the drinking water catchment for the highly populated Central Coast - seems astonishing. Even worse, experts have estimated that the total greenhouse gas emissions over the life span of the proposed Wallarah 2 mine add up to over 261 million tonnes of CO2.
On behalf of our client - community group the Australian Coal Alliance - we are challenging the validity of the PAC’s approval of Wallarah 2. Data from the mine’s own EIS led independent experts to conclude that it presents a serious risk to water supply - both surface and groundwater – leading to public health risks and damage to the natural environment. Mining activities are likely to permanently alter the contours of the land, causing damage to infrastructure, subsidence and flooding.
We will also argue that, in assessing coal projects, the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development should be paramount - specifically Intergenerational Equity: ensuring that present generations maintain and improve the health and diversity of the environment for future generations.
If these climate litigation cases are successful, they will create precedents assisting other community groups to challenge fossil fuels projects in the courts; and have many other positive short and long-term outcomes, including:
- Improving the way current and future coalmining development approvals are assessed in NSW;
- Protecting the drinking water of 300,000 people on the NSW Central Coast;
- Improving the health and wellbeing of the residents and farmers of our Central Coast and Hunter Valley, by providing greater security in their lives and livelihoods.
If the judgments are against us, we will know for sure that current laws are failing to create the necessary nexus between our international commitments to reduce emissions and our on-ground project approvals.
Our experts in Policy & Law Reform, Science and Litigation will continue to lead the way in the design of the next generation of environmental laws and new approaches to environmental law-making, so that we don’t engage in activities we know may pose a threat of serious or irreversible harm to ourselves and our environment.
With your support, we can help to prevent hundreds of millions of greenhouse gas emissions from entering our atmosphere and enforce long-term thinking on climate change that puts the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development first and foremost in the decision-making process.
Without us, the community has no access to justice, no-one to defend them and the places they love. Without you, we can’t keep up the fight.
Thank you for standing up for what's fair and just,
Open cut coal mine, NSW Hunter Valley