Extract from ABC News
Photo: New Hope Coal plans to expand its New Acland mine onto 3,668 hectares of agricultural land. (Arlie Felton-Taylor )
Landholders and farmers in the Darling Downs are claiming a big win following a Land Court decision recommending the $900 million Stage 3 expansion of the New Acland Coal Mine be scrapped.More than 60 property owners have been fighting the New Hope Group's proposed project since the State Government indicated support for it in 2012.
The expansion, which would see the mine produce coal for a further decade, was granted Federal Government approval earlier this year.
Opponents took the matter to the Land Court last year arguing the mine expansion would damage groundwater levels, air quality and prime agricultural land.
The case became the longest in Land Court history, with more than 100 days of hearings and 2,000 exhibits.
In a judgment today, the court recommended the Mining Leases and Environmental Authority amendment for Stage 3 not be granted for the proposed expansion.
Paul King from the Oakey Coal Action Alliance said it was a win for the region.
"The Land Court has recognised that the impact on our water supplies, our farm businesses and the health of our families are too severe," he said.In his judgment, Land Court Member Paul Smith said he was satisfied air quality, noise and dust levels could be sufficiently managed and the economic benefits of the mine were likely to be significant, but he said the risks to groundwater were too great.
Landholder Noel Weick said his property had already been affected.
"We know that groundwater was under threat and the mine was going to draw our bores down considerably, that's not going to happen now thank goodness."
Government could still permit projectIn a statement to the ASX, the New Hope Group said it remained committed to delivering the project and would actively progress it through the final stages of approval.
Michael Hartin from the CFMEU said the decision could cost hundreds of jobs.
"It's very disappointing, I'm certainly of the belief that the New Acland expansion is both commercially, financially and an environmentally sound project," he said
"There are 300 jobs now that face uncertainty, with over 1,000 proposed jobs that were going to go into construction."The State Government is the final decision maker for the project and will need to decide whether to follow the court's recommendations or approve it regardless.
A spokeswoman said the Government was examining the court's judgment.