After a rather tense court battle the Land Court handed down its decision today in regards to Alpha Coal and its proposed new mining venture. It has urged the Queensland government in the strongest manner to block approval to this venture unless some new and very important conditions be placed upon the developers. These conditions are to do with the environmental impact on the surrounding properties and the groundwater, which were the reasons the Farmers and Community groups took this action to court.
The mine, if allowed to go ahead without conditions, would have serious impacts on groundwater – not to mention the risks of exporting the coal through ports that neighbour the Great Barrier Reef. While there’s still a chance that Hancock Coal could still get approval subject to more conditions, the court’s ruling is clear: either this mine cleans up its act, or it doesn’t go ahead.
Spokesman for environmental lobby group Coast and Country, Derec Davies, said the decision is a major win for the environment, and for the pastoralists affected by the project, he also went on to say that:
The judge has clearly stated that the evidence provided to the court in relation to water is unsatisfactory and not in the public interest for this mine to be approved, he said.
Part-owner of Eureka Station, Peter Anderson, was one of the parties to the Land Court proceedings, spoke after the finding and said that:
He and his neighbours were thrilled with the court’s decision to impose water monitoring and licences, and make-good compensation arrangements.
It will now be a waiting game to see if the Newman government, here in Queensland, will uphold the courts findings and withhold final approval until an agreement is made in regards to the provisions recommended by the court. The Australian Greens are urging Premier Newman to withdraw backing for this mine and to look at addressing the current environment laws with the view to toughen requirements on industry in regards to meeting environmental safety goals. The Greens mining spokesperson, Senator Larissa Waters stated,
Despite finding the mine will have real and “of concern” climate impacts, the court’s decision proves that its high time we change our environmental laws so that this kind of climate destruction cannot be given the green light,
Even with these recommendations the Alpha mine project still holds great danger to the environment due to the massive amounts of CO2 that will be emitted each year. Findings show that these emissions will exceed previously high levels set by the industry.
If you would like to know more about the fight to prevent companies plundering our natural resources without checks and balances, that would prevent serious damage to the environment, follow the link above to the Australian Greens or if you wish to know more about the case against Alpha Coal it is worth checking out the Environmental Defenders Office.