Namoi Valley farmers and their supporters remain resolved to fight new fossil fuel projects slated for the farming district despite today’s overturning on appeal of the climate change duty of care established by the Sharma ruling.
The Federal Court today ruled in favour of Sussan Ley’s appeal against the Sharma decision that found she had a duty of care to consider the harm of climate change to Australian children when making decisions about new coal mining projects.
The first instance decision established, on the basis of scientific evidence, that the carbon emissions expected from Whitehaven’s Vickery Extension Project near Gunnedah posed a real risk of personal injury and death to today’s children due to climate impacts.
Namoi Valley farmer Sally Hunter said the decision changed little for the communities on the ground.
“Communities in the Namoi remain resolved to protect our region from new Whitehaven Coal projects,” she said.
“Whitehaven is a notorious environmental and social vandal - this company has been warned, fined, and prosecuted so many times over illegal activity committed at its Namoi Valley projects it makes your head spin.
“We do not want to see any more land or water lost to this company. Today’s decision is disappointing, but we are as committed as ever to stop Whitehaven’s new coal proposals.”
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said Minister Ley’s appeal didn’t change the fact Australian communities were already suffering the worsening impacts of the climate crisis.
“This decision makes it abundantly clear our federal environment laws are too weak, especially coming in the wake of the devastating climate-fuelled floods on the east coast,” she said.
“If our environment laws do not consider climate change, the most severe and long-lasting environmental and social impacts of mining projects, then they are not up to the job of protecting the environment or future generations of Australia.
“Instead of acting to protect young Australians from a legacy of extreme weather and upheaval, the Federal Government has fought against its own responsibility and duty of care.
“This government has fought to allow mining companies to continue ripping up the farms that feed communities all around Australia. It has fought to fuel the fires of climate change with more coal.”