Farmers take New Acland fight to High Court

Published: December 02, 2019

Determined Oakey farmers battling the New Acland thermal coal mine expansion on the Darling Downs have sought special leave to apply to the High Court.

The move comes after farmers resolved to continue the fight following a disappointing Queensland Court of Appeal decision last month.

Darling Downs dairy farmer David Vonhoff said farmers battling severe drought and the threat of searing bushfires could not afford to lose their precious groundwater to mining.

“We’re really in a dire situation here with this drought, while farmers just east of here have been battling extreme bushfires the likes of which we’ve never seen before,” he said.

“We just can’t afford to lose our groundwater to the Acland Stage 3 coal mine - we need water to produce food and we need water to fight fires, we can’t waste it on a coal mine.

“Our agricultural soils are among the top 1.5 percent in the state and we need to protect them from mining.

“It’s been incredibly difficult for us fighting this mine for over a decade, it’s a real David and Goliath battle, but our future is at stake.”

Oakey Coal Action Alliance secretary Paul King said the farming and residents group had made the decision to take the challenge to the High Court, because of the severe risks posed by the Acland Stage 3 project.

“We believe it is really crucial that these important matters are tested in court, because once groundwater is lost it’s most likely lost forever,” he said.

“That’s why we’ve sought special leave to appeal to the High Court.

“We hope that we will have an opportunity to have these important legal issues considered in the highest court in the country.”

Please chip in to support the legal appeal on the Acland Stage 3 coal mine on the Darling Downs.

Showing 30 reactions

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  • Alec Lucke
    commented 2019-12-05 18:16:08 +1100 · Flag
    The East End Mine Action Group Inc has been in the Qld Land Court against Cement Australia since June 2018. Water is the big issue and we have no limitations upon our opportunity to present objections in the Qld Land Court against a new mining lease application and amendment to an Environmental Authority. This comes about because of changing legislation \ new legislation and the snapshot in time when the application was lodged. Objectors to New Hope should rightfully claim they are discriminated against because other objectors are able to present and have their groundwater issues assessed by the Land Court.
  • Ellie Smith
    commented 2019-12-05 16:56:54 +1100 · Flag
    Good luck! You’re fighting for all of us. ♥️
  • Lock Barker
    commented 2019-12-05 07:24:05 +1100 · Flag
    Thanks OCAA, the Acland mine extension is so corrupt and so wrong in this climate emergency, thanks again for refusing to lie down.
  • Sarah Moles
    commented 2019-12-04 12:44:03 +1100
    Thank you all for standing so strong and determinedly agaiinst the fossil fools. Water must be prioritised for agriculture. There are no alternatives to food and water but lots of ways to meet our energy needs.
  • lesley jenkinsl
    commented 2019-12-04 12:22:43 +1100
    Dear Friends,
    It is almost incomprehensible the struggle you have had to maintain all this time. First, with the miners and their insatiable appetite, but worse with our government, which is supposedly there to look after us. It is a sad sad situation.
    Please know that we on the coastal fringe, that may not understand your day to day life, that can not really know what it is to be without water (well, I guess I am speaking for myself). I can not imagine it. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I pray our government, or is it up to the high court, comes to the right, and only decision, soon.
    Love and peace to you all, and a Happy Successful New Year, Lesley Jenkins
  • Claire Clough
    followed this page 2019-12-04 11:25:08 +1100
  • Noel Davis
    commented 2019-12-04 08:52:58 +1100
    Blessings on all your efforts…..So good you persevered with your efforts…..Please God the High Court supports and honours the truth you’re all seeing.. It seems the High Court’s Rulings are doing the work our Government Leaders have abandoned….It’s just wonderful that those of you ‘on the ground’ have stood so resolutely……Thank you.
  • Nigel Tanner
    commented 2019-12-04 01:38:30 +1100
    Please support the real Australians living in the area and dependent on local water resources.P)lease do not allow exploiters to strip off short-term profits from the land and then abandon it.
  • David Paul
    commented 2019-12-03 21:17:03 +1100
    It’s frankly disgusting that you have to petition and take legal action just to have access to water to grow crops and hydrate animals, especially during a peak period of drought and bushfires. This has to stop!
  • Helen Newton
    commented 2019-12-03 18:18:53 +1100
    Thank you for standing strong. Go well brave warriors.
  • Lesley Hughes
    commented 2019-12-03 16:54:01 +1100
    I can’t believe the roller coaster ride you have endured for all these years. It is undemocratic that you have to fight major industries AND our Queensland Government. And do it over and over again!
    Keep up the good fight. I support you wholeheartedly.
  • Michelle Britton
    commented 2019-12-03 16:35:19 +1100
    It’s shameful that farmers don’t have the support of their state and/or federal governments and need to deal with major court battles just to protect their livelihoods. I hope you have some peaceful and happy family times over Christmas and wish you strength and ultimately success in your fight.
  • Ani Hart
    commented 2019-12-03 13:45:46 +1100
    Well done all of you. You should not be in a fight like this to start with – but full credit to you for standing your ground. That the Australian Government does not support you in your quest to retain your rightful farm and lands is beyond being a travesty. Have a safe and Happy Christmas as strength of mind and body will surely be needed in the New Year. You have my full support and respect…..
  • Bill Harvey
    commented 2019-12-03 12:37:00 +1100
    Yes you are fighting for all of us, for farmers’ rights, for common sense.
  • Kay Deaves
    commented 2019-12-03 12:33:18 +1100
    It is Absolutely inconceivable that Acland should win this fight! It points to the greed and lack of foresight of the Queensland and Australian Governments. It is hard to believe that our farmers do not receive the full support they need. Our precious land and farms should be first priority.
  • Dean Draper
    commented 2019-12-03 12:12:15 +1100
    Well done!
  • Lorraine Bull
    commented 2019-12-03 12:02:26 +1100
    Nerves of steel! With drought and bushfires so prevalent, it is an indictment on the government that you still have to fight so hard to preserve your land and water. Coal mining needs to be phased out to have a hope of a livable climate and keep temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.
  • Margaret Gleeson
    commented 2019-12-03 11:35:38 +1100
    Keep up the fight OCAA…. it is a fight for all of us… for water and food sovereignty. I am amazed that the legal fight is still necessary after the previous historic win. I have been supporting your struggle over the years (from the period of the Campbell Newman Government). So many betrayals by politicians both LNP and ALP…. they must be held accountable. I have been covering your struggle writing articles for Green Left Weekly and look forward to the day when I can write an article documenting your final victory.
  • Dawn Williams
    commented 2019-12-03 11:33:27 +1100
    I support you 100% our mining giants are so corrupt, the need for clean water is paramount for our very survival. You can’t eat coal, I hope the judges overseeing this trial will have the insight to see how desperate this situation is and do the right thing.
  • Judy Hardy-Holden
    commented 2019-12-03 11:29:03 +1100
    It seems inconceivable that people should have to work so hard to maintain their industry from the rapacious actions of a destructive coal mine. I am not going to send you ‘thoughts and prayers’….I’m sending you anger and frustration. Please keep fighting and supporting each other and every best wish for a just and sustainable outcome from your court case.
  • Carol Khan
    commented 2019-12-03 11:28:44 +1100
    Your persistence and actions now will save millions of lives. Thank you for standing up to do the hardest work, resisting unjust, unviable and dangerous profit motivated destruction of our land and water. I hope you will win and that you will have some respite over the holidays after a disasterous season. Wishing you and your families some peace.
  • Judy Lawson
    commented 2019-12-03 10:45:25 +1100
    All coal mines need to be shut down and no coal exported. So what if we have to change the way we do things. If we don’t many more will suffer.
  • Libby Gregory
    commented 2019-12-03 10:27:44 +1100
    To all who have battled this Acland development for so long: heartfelt thanks! You are an inspiration to all Australians on a number of levels but WATER stands out for me! Best Wishes for success at the High Court- keep strong in your quest.
  • Fiona Sim
    commented 2019-12-03 10:24:13 +1100
    My best wishes to the Oakey Coal Action Alliance with the high court appeal. It’s a crazy situation that coal companies like this seem to have carte blanche to do as they like, destroying prime agricultural land when we have so few places like this in Australia, not to mention taking precious water away from farmers battling drought and fires. I hope you win your case!
  • Muzz Morris
    commented 2019-12-03 10:24:03 +1100
    I am glad to see you have been able to make some progress. I wish you well in your endeavour. Our groundwater is far too precious to risk and, as you are well aware I’m sure, unlikely ever to be replaced in any foreseeable future. Good luck and Godspeed.
  • Libby Gregory
    followed this page 2019-12-03 10:20:17 +1100
  • Mee Wun Lee
    commented 2019-12-03 10:20:14 +1100
    I support the farmers in the fight to preserve ground water and agricultural land against mining. Good on you for your courage and standing up against mining interests. I am with you.
  • Mary Busteed
    commented 2019-12-03 10:18:21 +1100
    Dear folk who are fighting the Acland mine travesty. I supported your action, in presence only, with a few others at the New Hope AGM in Ipswich in November. Fantastic to hear that you have taken this to the High court. Wishing you, and all of us, VICTORY
  • 💧 Peter McLarty
    commented 2019-12-03 10:15:38 +1100
    Once again in the behold of mining. We are seeing time and time again that mining doesn’t bring the riches we keep getting to0ld, nor does it provide the jobs. Thermal Coal is now a blight on society due to its impact on climate change. This was a damning insight into how the system is rigged for mining and yet it does little for the economy, only really good for the companies who mine.

    Good luck with your challenge. It will be interesting to see how it falls out. What does our constitution say about protecting the rights of those who need water and should mining get all the water?
  • Michael and Marion Bell
    commented 2019-12-02 15:28:51 +1100
    Our farmers are so desperate for water, yet we let it all go to coal mines. Something definitely wrong somewhere.

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