Landowners win case against coal mine

A long running legal battle has ended in defeat for Hume Coal.

A group of landowners in NSW’s Southern Highlands are celebrating a win after a six-year case to stop Hume Coal’s land access.

South Korean owned Hume Coal were initially granted prospecting rights over properties by a Commissioner for Mining, with the company seeking access to roads and tracks.

However the chief judge of NSW’s Land and Environment Court upheld an appeal made by five families in the region, handing down the decision on Tuesday.

Peter Martin, one of the property owners, said the company intended to drill holes for exploration in his Lucerne paddocks, using his driveway was an access point, according to SBS.

“This is significant for all landowners in NSW,” he said.

“We’ve had miners run roughshod over landholders’ rights for years, supported by the government…and it’s got to stop.”

Legal action to stop their access was launched but was dismissed in November 2015.

Land and Environment Court chief judge justice Brian Preston rejected this initial decision and remitted the case, saying the Commissioner had “erred on questions of law in numerous ways”.

Hume Coal was also ordered to pay the legal fees.

Hume Coal was disappointed by the court’s decision, with project director Greig Duncan saying that before exploration they were mindful of where they would operate, taking time to establish a drilling program that had little impact on current land use.

Duncan added that this decision will have severe ramifications for mining and exploration in NSW for coal and other commodities, and could potentially limit essential resources.

“It is now up to the NSW State Government to review the land access laws and regulations, so that the exploration industry can continue to progress opportunities, employment, and the economy for the people of New South Wales,” he said.

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