Hume Coal calls for changes to land access laws

Hume Coal is seeking changes to the law after losing access to farmland for mining in NSW’s Southern Highlands.

The decision, handed down by chief judge Brian Preston, bans miners from drilling exploration on properties that reject access to ‘improved’ land.

Farms were previously prevented from blocking access on unimproved land, but the decision has provided clarity of the definition.

The company wants to mine under farmland at Sutton Forest, south west of Wollongong.

Peter Martin, a Sutton Forrest land owner who was successful in the court case, called the miner’s request “pathetic”, according to the Illawarra Mercury.

“If the law is actually applied as it’s meant to be applied, they say the law’s got to be changed,” he said.

He added that there had already been a review into land access laws in 2014-15 by the lawyer Bret Walker, who also represented Martin in his case.

“The Government has done a very thorough review of land access based on the things people like us were saying to them.”

The case is said to be watched by both the mining lobby and their lawyers.

Hume Coal project director Greig Duncan said the company is still aiming to continue its plans for approval.

“Despite the unfavourable ruling, Hume Coal is focused on continuing down the approval path and delivering its low-impact mining project which has been designed to preserve and protect the region for future generations,” he said.

“We are continuing to progress the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), due to be released later this year.”

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