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Court Challenge Looms as Burke Backflips on Big Coal and Gas

The Gillard Government has continued its woeful record of capitulation to big coal and gas mining by today approving three highly contentious mining projects - two coal mines near Maules Creek in north-west NSW and a coal seam gas field near Gloucester.

The Federal Government has now approved over 18,000 coal seam gas wells in Australia and every single coal mine that has been referred to it. Legal challenges are now likely, according to the Lock the Gate Alliance.

"Last week Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke slammed the NSW Government for inadequate controls on mining, and this week he has caved in and signed off on their failings," said Carmel Flint, spokesperson for Lock The Gate Alliance. 

"Last week Tony Burke deferred a decision on the Maules Creek and Boggabri coal mines until the end of April, and this week he has rushed out and approved the mines.  

"He didn't even take the time to properly investigate the evidence provided to him that the mine proposals were based on false and misleading information.

"The Minister has yet again simply folded to the demands of big coal and gas corporations. It is a very sad day today for the people of Maules Creek and Gloucester - their lives will change forever as a result of what the Minister has done today.  

"Many will no longer be able to live on their farms and properties and those who stay are likely to experience serious health impacts, their property values will plummet and their small communities will be split apart. The places they love will be torn apart.

"These decisions reflect both a complete failure of the Federal legal system and a profound failure of political courage.  

"Rarely, if ever, have such environmentally damaging developments been approved - the coal mines will destroy a critically endangered ecosystem and an important koala population; the gasfield will threaten underground water resources. 

"Community groups and concerned citizens have already launched a legal fighting fund and we are almost certain to see these matters end up in court," she said.

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