Fossil fuels environmental group Lock the Gate Alliance has suffered a tactical loss against the New Acland Stage 3 coal project, with complaints rejected by the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC)
Lock the Gate lodged a complaint against the new development in August 2015, which voiced concerns about the reversal of position by the Newman Government to shift from opposition to support for the proposal.
While in opposition the Liberal Party led by Campbell Newman promised to oppose the New Hope Group mine, however Lock the Gate said parent company Washington H Soul Pattinson donated around $950,000 to the Queensland Liberal party over two years between the 2012 state election and 2014.
The ABC reported last year the parent company had donated $700,000 to the Liberal National Party over a three year period.
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) welcomed the decision, claiming the CCC complaint by Lock the Gate was “was no more than a variation on the activists’ ‘disrupt and delay’ strategy, using litigation, to hold up coal projects”.
A statement from QRC said 300 jobs were at risk when the current mine footprint runs out in 2017-18, and that the new expansion would employ 435 local workers.
Lock the Gate has listed a number of concerns with the Stage 3 expansion, which include predictions of water table drawdown of 47 metres, and proposals of mining water discharge into the nearby Mary River.
Land Court hearings for the Stage 3 development will continue over the next ten weeks at the Dalby Courthouse, where 27 objectors to the mining lease applications and 35 objectors to the draft Environmental Authority will be heard.
It is understood the Queensland Government will only stand to benefit from seven per cent of the approximately $450 million in royalties from the New Acland development, due to pre-1910 land titles which give the landholder sub-surface mineral rights.