Steep cost for family who fought coal mining company

A fundraiser is being held for a family who took on Hume Coal over land access rights, after the family lost the court battle, incurring high legal costs.

Hume Coal and local property owner Robert Koltai agreed to a Land Access Agreement in mid-2012, making way for the company to drill three bore holes on the land for coal exploration.

But Carter’s Lane, the road the company wished to use in order to access Koltai’s property, is owned by the Alexander family who with the support of the Southern Highlands Coal Action Group allowed protestors to block the lane and restrict access to Hume Coal for around six months.

In May the NSW Land and Environment Court ruled that Hume Coal was not required to have a Land Access Agreement to drive across Alexander’s property via Carter’s Lane and that the lane was the most convenient access route to Koltai’s property.

SHCAG cofounder Kim Martin is inviting people to support the fundraising event, Southern Highlands News reported.

"Please come and show your support for two wonderful locals who have put so much on the line to protect our beautiful Southern Highlands from destructive coal mining," she said.

SHCAG convenor Peter Martin said landowners being targeted by the company for land access were "distressed", adding that the group would continue to “support landowners who are against allowing mining companies onto their land”.

At the time of the court ruling, Hume Coal’s project manager Tim Rheinberger expressed disappointment over the legal action.

“While we are pleased with the decision we are deeply disappointed that the owners of Carters Lane and the Southern Highlands Coal Action Group set up the blockade and caused this unnecessary action in the first place,” he said.

Image: Southern Highlands News

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