Residents express outrage outside court
A DARLING Downs grandmother who spent her savings building her dream home for retirement that ended up being about a kilometre away from New Acland coal mine is now living a donga near Kingsthorpe.
Aileen Harrison was part of a group of Darling Downs residents who spoke outside Brisbane's land court on Wednesday ahead of the final days of the court case over the expansion of the New Acland coal mine.
There are about 40 individual objectors to the New Acland stage three proposal, including individual residents and community groups.
Mrs Harrison, who is representing herself in the court case, said she and her husband Ken built their dream home on their daughter and son-in-law's property before the mine was built.
By about 2006, she said they were living in dust, with the mine eventually expanding to about 1.2km away from their home.
"From then on we lived in hell,” she said.
Mrs Harrison and two other people in her family were diagnosed with asthma.
New Acland eventually bought the property and Mrs Harrison now lives in a donga in Kingsthorpe while most of her precious household items are locked in a container.
She said this was not how she intended on spending her retirement.
"I had no money left, we put it all into our house because it was our last move,” she said.
"And since 2010 I've had no home.”
The Queensland Land Court case has been ongoing for seven months.
Closing submissions in the land court case are expected to continue for the rest of the week.
During his submissions on Wednesday, Barrister Saul Holt, representing Oakey Coal Action Alliance, spoke about how the town of Acland "no longer exists”.
He said New Acland Coal removed 27 homes in 2009, and literally put them on the back of trucks.
Mr Holt said New Acland Coal were entitled to do that, as they owned the properties, but he argued this did not mean it did not have an impact.
"They did what they were entitled to,” he said.
"It was entitled to drive away the town of Acland so that it no longer exists. It doesn't mean they didn't do something very significant to this area.”
New Hope - the mining company behind the New Acland mine - were contacted for comment but did not wish to respond while the case was ongoing.
Speaking outside court, cattle farmer Frank Ashman, who is the president of Oakey Coal Action Alliance - a 60-member group that has been at the forefront of the legal battle against the mine's expansion - believed there was a 50/50 chance they would succeed in the case.
The Land Court will make a recommendation to the government about the expansion.
- ARM NEWSDESK