NSW court blocks Gloucester coal development

The New South Wales Land and Environment Court has rejected an appeal from Gloucester Resources regarding the refusal of its development application for the Rocky Hill coking coal mine in the Hunter Valley.

The verdict was delivered last week by Chief Justice Brian Preston, who said the mine would have significant social and environmental impacts.

Gloucester has been developing the Rocky Hill coal mine for several years, having started exploration and project planning works in 2010.

The NSW Independent Planning Commission refused the mine in December 2017, finding that the project was not in the public interest, which prompted Gloucester to sue the Minister for Planning.

“The mine will have significant adverse impacts on the visual amenity and rural and scenic character of the valley, significant adverse social impacts on the community and particular demographic groups in the area, and significant impacts on the existing, approved and likely preferred uses of land in the vicinity of the mine,” Preston’s judgment stated.

The judgment also cited the potential climate change impact caused by greenhouse gases arising from the mine’s activity.

Gloucester had proposed employing 110 operational staff to produce 21 million tonnes of coal over a mine life of up to 21 years.

Environmental group Lock the Gate Alliance welcomed the news, stating that the Independent Planning Commission should also commission an independent climate change review into Kepco’s Bylong coal mine as well.

“At a time when the world is warming at a terrifying rate, this judgement marks a turning point for NSW’s consideration of new mines,” said Lock the Gate spokesperson Georgina Woods.

A NSW Environmental Defence Office (EDO) statement claimed it was the first time an Australian court had refused consent for a coal mine on the basis of climate change impacts.

Gloucester Resources told media it would consider its next steps for the mine in light of the decision.

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