The Oakey Coal Action Alliance is calling on newly appointed Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart to honour his predecessor's commitment to wait until legal proceedings are finished before making a decision on the New Acland Stage 3 expansion.
The High Court of Australia is yet to hand down a decision after a hearing was held last month. If the farmers are successful, the matter will likely return to the Land Court, which recommended in 2017 that both a mining lease and an environmental authority should be refused.
Separately, the Oakey Coal Action Alliance will write to the Queensland Environment Department and allege illegal mining is still occurring in the “West Pit” area, despite an ongoing state government investigation into earlier reports of illegal mining in the pit.
New Acland is alleged to have already excavated $500 million worth of coal from the pit, which it does not have approval to mine.
OCCA secretary Paul King commended the Palaszczuk Government for standing firm in the face of relentless bullying from New Acland during the State Election campaign and the months leading up to it.
“New Acland has behaved appallingly and it’s clear Queenslanders have seen this company for the bully it is,” Mr King said.
“We applaud the Palaszczuk Government for standing firm in the face of this company’s atrocious behaviour, and urge newly appointed Resources Minister Scott Stewart to maintain the position set by his predecessor.
“The Stage 3 expansion would force many farmers off the land, likely put an end to the production of about 10 million litres of milk on dairies in the area, and permanently destroy farmland that is classed in the top 1.5 per cent of the state.”
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said the sorry story of New Acland demonstrated the need for legislative reform, and urged newly appointed State Development and Planning Minister Steven Miles to put it at the top of his to do list.
“The New Acland coal mine has already destroyed hundreds of hectares of the highest quality farmland in the state, and has driven all but one person out of the town of Acland,” she said.
“This should never have been allowed to happen.
“It’s a similar story played out across Queensland, where farmland and communities that should be protected under the Regional Planning Interests Act are instead threatened by coal and gas projects.
“Clearly, the system is broken when companies can simply fill out a form and they are given free rein to wreak destruction wherever they please.
“That’s why we are calling for an urgent reform of the RPIA, so the farmland and communities that are meant to be protected can not be destroyed with the tick of a bureaucrat's pen.”