Gloucester coal mine case puts climate change on trial - EDO NSW

Gloucester coal mine puts climate change on trial

In a landmark hearing in Australian courts which starts next Monday 13 August, expert evidence will be given that the Rocky Hill Coal Project at Gloucester must be rejected to ensure the global Paris climate target to keep temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius is met.

Over 60 community objectors have registered to speak in court about the negative social impacts of the Project, including noise, dust and potential harm to the thriving local tourism industry.

This expert and community evidence will be presented as part of hearings in the NSW Land and Environment Court in which Gloucester Resources Limited (GRL) and Yancoal Australia are challenging the refusal to approve a greenfield mine application, known as the Rocky Hill Coal Project (the Project), and an associated modification to the Stratford Coal Extension Project. The Environmental Defenders Office NSW (EDO NSW) is acting for Groundswell Gloucester who are appearing as a respondent.

This is the first hearing of its kind since the historic Paris Agreement where a superior jurisdiction court in Australia will hear expert testimony about climate change and the impacts of the burning of fossil fuels.

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For years EDO NSW has supported the Gloucester community, providing legal and scientific advice. This contributed to a recommendation from the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) in 2016 to the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) to refuse GRL’s greenfield mine application, known as the Rocky Hill Coal Project, and an associated Stratford modification.

In December 2017, the PAC refused consent to the Project and the modification, finding they were not in the public interest because of their significant visual impact and the area’s zoning under planning laws.

In deciding how the project would be assessed, the NSW Minister for Planning granted unusual merit appeal rights to GRL and Yancoal, who are now joined together in aggressively challenging the refusal in Court.

There are a range of views held in the community about the Project. EDO NSW’s clients, Groundswell Gloucester, and the many community objectors, believe it will have unacceptable social, environmental and economic impacts and that the rejection should stand.

Further info: EDO NSW case page