The court case challenging the New Acland coal mine on the Darling Downs is set to close today, making it one of the biggest cases in the history of Queensland’s Land Court.
Lock the Gate Alliance says the scale of the case reflects the immense impacts this mine would have.
"Over several months of evidence, the Court has heard of the serious impacts the Acland Stage 3 coal expansion would have on groundwater, farming businesses and the health of families," Carmel Flint from Lock the Gate said.
"Hearings were re-opened two weeks ago following a request from New Acland Coal to submit further evidence.
"Once the Land Court hands down its recommendation it will fall to the Queensland Government to make a final decision.
"Hard-working farmers and community members have given up countless hours of their time and travelled back and forth to Brisbane to protect the precious water resources and rich farmland of the Darling Downs,” Ms Flint said.
In summary, the evidence has shown:
- Flawed groundwater modelling: The case showed flawed and unreliable groundwater modelling, potentially placing farmers’ critical groundwater supplies at risk.
- Noise and dust risks and complaints: Evidence showed there was a high risk of the project exceeding air quality limits unless controls were in place. The Court heard the community’s complaints about coal dust and noise levels and requests for data have fallen effectively on deaf ears for the past decade, including more than 100 complaints to New Hope and 30 to the state environment department.
- Over-inflated job figures: The project’s original environmental impact statement stated the project would produce an average of 2,953 jobs per annum, yet in court this figure was reduced to 680 net jobs nationally.
- Limited royalties to Queensland government: In court it was revealed an estimated $500M in royalties from the expansion would flow to the coal company and a small number of property owners, instead of to the Queensland Government which would receive just 7% of this, severely limiting financial benefits from royalties to taxpayers.