New Hope Group, owner of the New Acland coal mine, is attempting to game the system after allowing highly productive agricultural land it owns on the Darling Downs to degrade just so it can be mined, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
A subsidiary of New Hope, New Acland Pastoral, first purchased the highly productive strategic cropping land about five years ago.
However, rather than continuing to crop the land, it was left to degrade (P25-26), and the company is now seeking a Regional Interests Development Approval (RIDA) to mine the land as part of its Stage 3 expansion.
Oakey Coal Action Alliance Secretary Paul King said New Hope was seeking to dig up and destroy some of the finest soils in the world.
"These cannot be replaced despite any rehabilitation efforts the company employs,” he said.
"New Hope has deliberately run down prime farmland that it purchased from the district's farmers in order to prove that it is not suitable for cropping, or of much value at all.
"The farmers in the district know the value of their soil and water and will do anything in their power to protect it."
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said, “The Darling Downs is widely recognised as being one of the key food bowls of Australia, yet New Hope is doing its best to reduce the amount of land available for cropping.
“The company also cannot demonstrate the mining activity will not result in widespread or irreversible impacts on the future use of the area, even if rehabilitated.”
New Hope’s own application (P9) indicates the future use of the area will be limited to grazing at best if mined. The impact of the mining activity is also likely to have consequences over a larger area when groundwater drawdown is factored in.
The public submission period for New Hope’s RIDA Application closes today (17 January).