Widespread and growing community opposition to the Acland Stage 3 coal mine expansion on the Darling Downs will be demonstrated again from today, when the Land Court holds a series of directions hearings for 27 objectors to the mining lease applications and 35 objectors to the draft Environmental Authority.
The six separate hearings will be at the Dalby Courthouse commencing at 8:40 am today (Wednesday 4th November) and local community group, Oakey Coal Action Alliance, will be one of the first objectors to appear.
Oakey Coal Action Alliance lodged formal objections to the project, and will be appearing tomorrow to request a directions timetable that will allow relevant issues to be thoroughly considered by the Land Court in a final hearing next year.
The group is comprised of farmers and residents from the local area and surrounds who will be affected by the proposed mine expansion.
"The extraordinary number of objectors who have been prepared to stand up and challenge the Acland coal mine expansion in the Land Court shows the enormous scale of community opposition to it” said Frank Ashman, local farmer and spokesperson for Oakey Coal Action Alliance.
"The Acland Stage 3 coal expansion represents a serious threat to our water resources, our farm businesses and the health of our local families.
"We are very glad to have the opportunity to get our legal challenge underway and to finally be able to start the long process of presenting solid evidence as to why this mine should not go ahead.
"Our case will be that the expansion should not proceed because of the irreversible impacts it will have on important farming land, groundwater resources and the wellbeing of local communities.
"We will also argue that the costs of this expansion to Qld far outweigh any benefits, especially given that the mine proponent is operating under an old title system which means it pays a large proportion of royalties to itself” Mr Ashman said.
Michael Kane will also be present at the directions hearing as an objector from Clean Air Queensland – an alliance of community groups from Brisbane and south-east Qld raising awareness about the impacts of coal pollution and uncovered coal trains on human health.
"I will be telling the Land Court about the downstream impacts of the proposed mine expansion, including the impacts on the health of Brisbane residents as uncovered coal trains travel through the suburbs on the way to the Port” Mr Kane said.
"Currently, 9 million tonnes of coal is transported through Brisbane suburbs each year with industry plans to increase this figure to 20 million tonnes.
"The World Health Organisation has classified airborne particulate pollution associated with coal mines and coal transport as a carcinogen which has been linked to increased rates of asthma, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.
"The people of Brisbane do not want more dirty, uncovered coal wagons rumbling through their city and putting the health of their children at risk” he said.
OCAA will be represented in the Land Court by lawyers from community legal centre, Environmental Defenders Office (Qld).
Background Facts on the Proposed Acland Coal Mine Expansion
The Acland Stage 3 Coal Mine:
- Will result in the loss of more 1,300 hectares of Strategic Cropping Land located on the fertile soils of our nationally significant food-bowl on the Darling Downs.
- Will result in the release of poor quality mine water into Lagoon Ck, reducing water quality and degrading surface water supplies.
- Will cause drawdown in groundwater aquifers of up to 47m in some locations
- Will worsen noise and air quality for people and farmers surrounding the mine, many of whom are already living with negative impacts of the current operations
- Will cause negative impacts on threatened species and communities, including the Koala
- Will allow a treasured and irreplaceable local heritage site, the Acland War Memorial and Tom Doherty Park, to be sold off to New Hope Coal.
- Will leave a final hole or 'void' that covers more than 475 hectares.
- Will do little or nothing for the people of Qld, because it is captured by an old title which means that the Qld Government will receive only a tiny fraction of the royalties.