Local farmers have called for the Queensland Government to refuse a groundwater licence for the Acland Stage 3 coal expansion, after the Court of Appeal today ruled the Land Court did not have the power to consider groundwater impacts from mining.
The Court of Appeal in Brisbane ruled on technical grounds that the legal mechanism for assessing groundwater impacts of mining should be via the water licencing process rather than the grant of an environmental authority.
Community groups have responded by calling on the Queensland Government to now reject the associated water licence for the coal mine, because of the impacts on groundwater and adjoining farmers.
As a result of the Court of Appeal decision, the two previous Land Court decisions have also been set aside on other grounds, and the case will have to be re-heard in its entirety.
Oakey Coal Action Alliance secretary Paul King said the project should never have been allowed to proceed due to the harm it would inflict on local farmers, the environment, and the Oakey economy.
“This is a very difficult outcome for local farmers who have lived with this threat for ten long years and now face more uncertainty due to this technicality, while they struggle with a worsening drought and reduced groundwater supply,” he said.
“The farming land around Oakey is classed in the top 1.5 per cent in Queensland. It is madness that it should be destroyed for the sake of a temporary coal mine.”
“Local farmers and residents are determined to protect precious groundwater resources and will be providing the Queensland Government with expert information as to why a water licence should not be granted for the mine.
“We will also be assessing how to provide expert information and historical information to the Land Court re-hearing when it occurs.
Mr King said, “We urge the Queensland Government to stand firm and not approve an associated water licence for the Stage 3 expansion.
“Local farmers and residents will suffer more if the New Acland Stage 3 project proceeds - they have already battled noise and dust for years, and any expansion will make life unbearable for many locals.
“This farming country here has been farmed continuously for 150 years and we produce 10 million litres of milk each year.”