Media Release 10th May 2016
BREAKING: Court Stops Coal Explorer from Accessing Properties in Southern Highlands; Precedent Set for NSW
The Chief Justice of the NSW Land and Environment Court has this afternoon overturned a previous court decision and found in favour of 5 landholders in the Southern Highlands who have been fighting to prevent a coal company from exploring on their properties.
Peter Martin from Coal Free Southern Highlands said “This is an incredibly significant decision for landholders right across NSW whose land sits above a coal deposit. It means that we have the right to reject coal exploration which will damage significant improvements on our land.
“We have been fighting for six years to prevent our highly developed farms and the vital water resources that lie beneath them from being destroyed by coal exploration and mining.
“It’s not just landholders who won today. The wider economy of the Southern Highlands has very close links between intensive agriculture, tourism, events, accommodation, hospitality and retail. Hundreds of jobs are at risk if this coal mine is allowed to threaten important water resources and the clean, green image of our shire.
“This decision today is a body blow to the South Korean-owned company, Hume Coal, which no longer has the right to enter our lands if they are going to impinge on significant improvements on our properties.
“We believe this will be the death knell for their ill-considered mining project, which is completely inappropriate in a key part of Sydney’s drinking water catchment and one of the most historic and picturesque parts of NSW.
“This decision finally restores a semblance of balance to a planning system which gives big miners special treatment and which bullies and intimidates landholders into giving access.
“We’d like to thank our Senior Counsel, Mr Brett Walker, and our full legal team for their extraordinary hard work and commitment to deliver this outcome” he said.
Phil Laird from Lock the Gate Alliance said “The decision today by Justice Preston sets a vital and long-awaited precedent for landholders across NSW.
“Coal miners no longer have a god given right to unrestricted access to your property – there are some legal constraints and you can prevent miners from impacting on significant improvements on your property” he said.
CONTACTS: Peter Martin, President Coal Free Southern Highlands Inc, 0418 800 111
Virginia Ellsmore, Knitting Nannas Against Coal 0428 254 966
Phil Laird, Lock the Gate Alliance, 0428 712622
- Hume Coal is proposing to use an experimental underground mining plan called ‘Pine Feather’ if approval is given.
- The company’s own documents concede it will drawdown water from the pristine aquifer system underlying the area by up to 90 metres and affect an area of over 300 square kms, draining landowners’ bores in the process. Hundreds of landowners and many businesses in the area will be affected.
- The company plans to pump toxic mining rejects in a slurry back into the mined out voids, right under the aquifer itself. This risks polluting the groundwater for generations to come and creates a potential health hazard.
- A massive coal stockpile will be within 4kms of the historic township of Berrima, creating health risks for residents from dangerous coal dust.
- Hume Coal has been running an aggressive legal campaign for over four years, attempting to force landowners in Sutton Forest to allow them to drill on some of the most highly developed properties in NSW.