Darling Downs locals deliver closing fight for farms, health and community at risk from new Acland Coal mine expansion.
Media Conference before the last days of the David vs Goliath community challenge to the proposed expansion of the New Acland Coal mine in the Darling Downs - one of the largest environmental public interest cases in Australian history that began on 7 March 2016 and involved 40 individual objectors; 27 expert witnesses; 38 lay witnesses; 14 active parties; 84 hearing days; two site inspections; 1,892 exhibits; and 7,452 pages of court transcripts.
The court heard startling evidence revealing the mine’s threat to further erode the future of the region’s farming economy, water security, local’s health and Acland’s social fabric. (Further background below)
WHEN: 9.15am, Wednesday 5 October 2016 (closing oral submissions start at 10am in Land Court)
WHERE: Outside Queensland Land Court (Brisbane Magistrates Court, 363 George St corner of Turbot Street).
- Frank Ashman, Darling Downs beef cattle stud farmer and president of Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA)
- Aileen Harrison, local grandmother who was forced to leave her community following the last stage of mine expansion after suffering health impacts, yet was unable to sell her home.
- Paul King, secretary of OCAA, community organiser of Darling Downs Environment Council (another objector in the case) and Toowoomba local of 35 years
- Jo-Anne Bragg, CEO & Solicitor, Environmental Defenders Office QLD (lawyers for OCAA)
PHOTO OP: Speakers, court backdrop, farmers and residents from the region.
HIGH QUALITY STILLS of farmers of the Acland region, aerial shots of mine and VISION are available (link).
CONTACTS FOR MEDIA:
Oakey Coal Action Alliance – Monique Vandeleur 0419 588 430
Environmental Defenders Office QLD – Jolee Wakefield 0415 833 948
A MEDIA RELEASE will be made available on the day. A comprehensive MEDIA EXPLAINER is available (link). Environmental Defenders Office Queensland has also released a series of CASE STUDIES on farmers involved in the case (link).
- New Hope wants to expand their existing open-cut New Acland Coal mine in Queensland’s Darling Downs and operate for an additional 12 years to 2029. Community group Oakey Coal Action Alliance has been acting alongside 30 community objectors in challenging the project.
- The existing mine has caused extensive hardship, damaged community members’ physical and mental health and livelihoods and eroded the once-thriving and cohesive rural community (see case studies here). Objectors fear any further expansion would be an unsustainable blow to the community and the region.
- The case began on 7 March 2016 and is one of the largest environmental public interest cases of its kind in Australian history. Startling evidence from the case (below) further highlights that Queenslanders have an enormous amount to lose from the contentious expansion, with risks to water, health and farming businesses.
KEY EVIDENCE FROM THE CASE:
- Bloated job claims. The number of jobs created by the project is less than a quarter of the numbers originally claimed by the company, with the New Acland Coal economic expert reducing the job figures down from 2,953 jobs pa to just 680 net jobs pa.
- Faulty water modelling. The groundwater modelling on which the project was based has been shown to be faulty and unreliable.
- Dust and noise breaches. The existing mine (Stages 1 and 2) has regularly exceeded dust and noise limits and monitoring has been demonstrably inadequate, and the proposed expansion does not place adequate limits on coal dust particle pollution to prevent human health impacts.
- Limited royalties to QLD public. An estimated $500M in royalties from the expansion will flow to the coal company and a small number of property owners, instead of to the Queensland Government.