Court rejects New Acland expansion
A COURT has called for the State Government to reject New Hope's controversial New Acland Stage 3 expansion.
Despite acknowledging the mine would have significant economic benefits and despite dismissing environmental concerns, Land Court member Paul Smith on Wednesday recommended the Queensland Government not allow the expansion.
Environmental groups and residents of the Acland area challenged the mine's expansion, arguing it would damage their water and air quality and impact their quality of life.
In a 459-page judgment, Mr Smith agreed the expansion had the potential to "adversely affect" groundwater for "hundreds of years to come". He said this was a breach of "intergenerational equity" and was reason to refuse the proposal.
Mr Smith said even New Hope's water experts raised concerns about the impact on water supplies.
Outside court, landholder Noel Wieck broke down as he called on the government to uphold the court's decision.
"We knew the groundwater was under threat (from the proposed expansion)," he said.
"This will be my 58th year farming that property. My family's roots in the area are pretty deep.
"I never thought I'd be cross-examining someone in court, but I reckon I did pretty well."
Mr Smith ruled the mine expansion should not go ahead although it would likely provide "significant economic benefit" to the area, state and nation.
"I am concerned as to the impact on groundwater of neighbouring properties but, on an economic level alone, the revised Stage 3 project is of greater value than agricultural pursuits, even over the long term," he said.
Mr Smith said he did not believe the expansion would have impacted climate change as coal from other parts of the world would be burnt in its place.
New Hope was in a trading halt on Wednesday, pending an announcement from the company. It declined to comment.
A government spokesperson said the recommendation was being considered.