The Bulga Case, NSW - Coal Mine Expansion
On April 7, 2014, the NSW Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the residents of the Hunter Valley village of Bulga, represented by EDO NSW, by upholding the refusal of an open cut coal mine expansion.
The Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed, with costs, an appeal by Warkworth Mining Ltd (owned by Rio Tinto) and the NSW Government against a NSW Land and Environment Court decision last year that refused the mine expansion.
The Court of Appeal found no fault with the Land and Environment Court decision that the economic benefits of the coal mine did not outweigh the significant impacts on Bulga residents and the destruction of rare forests containing endangered plant and animal species.
Rio Tinto was seeking to open cut mine a biodiversity offset area, containing an endangered ecological community, the Warkworth Sands Woodland, and threatened animal species including the squirrel glider and the speckled warbler. This woodland is unique to the area and only 13 per cent of the original forest remains.
Rio Tinto had previously promised to permanently protect this area, under an agreement with the NSW government, as part of the existing approval from 2003.The protected area also includes Saddleback Ridge which provides a buffer between the mine and Bulga.
Bulga residents outside the NSW Court of Appeal after their legal victory