New Right to Information documents have revealed New Acland coal mine was fined a mere $9,461 for breaching its permitted noise levels a staggering 34 times.
The documents show that because the noise had a “major impact”, and that parent company New Hope was “moderately culpable”, Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science should have prosecuted New Hope through the courts if the department had followed its own compliance guideline.
The noise violations themselves breached New Acland’s environmental authority conditions, the Environmental Protection Policy guidelines (Noise) 2009, and World Health Organisation Community Guidelines.
The mine’s noise has previously led to some residents moving from the area, like Aileen Harrison and her daughter, who sold their old property due to dust and noise from the operation.
This latest revelation comes after it was reported New Hope was being investigated by both the State and Federal environment departments for mining outside its permitted area at New Acland.
It also follows the decision by DES to fine New Acland just $3,152 for illegally drilling 27 bores in 2018.
Then too, the offence was considered a “major” breach, but the department believed the fine - a 20th of the maximum amount for a single infringement - would serve as a deterrent.
Lock the Gate Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith labelled DES a “toothless tiger” for failing to throw the book at New Hope.
“Queenslanders expect that when a company breaks the law, it should be held to account so the company stops the illegal behaviour,” she said.
"According to its own compliance guideline DES should have prosecuted New Hope for this ongoing offence that caused a major impact.
"Instead New Hope was handed a miniscule fine of just $9,461. This will do nothing to bring this rogue company and repeat offender into line.
"This failure by the government to appropriately penalise New Acland, which has a history of serious violations, is an insult to the communities and farmers who have been devastated by this mine.
"This latest revelation is yet another reason why New Acland mine must not be allowed to expand.
“We as a state should be focused on preserving our most productive agricultural land like that which exists on the Darling Downs.”