The ruling by the NSW Land and Environment Court on February 8 to reject the Rocky Hill coalmine outside Gloucester is being felt beyond its local community and will have implications for human rights as well as climate change policy.
Land and Environment Court
Mining company Rio Tinto has been fined only $50,000 over the collapse of a dam wall at its Mount Thorley Warkworth mine last year.
It is estimated that up to 4 megalitres of sediment-laden rainwater flowed into the Wallaby Scrub Road reserve from the dam. The company blamed the collapse on several days of continuous rain, which softened the dam’s earth wall. However the court found the event was not a major storm but "merely what is regarded as a one-in-two-year rain event".
Bylong Valley, near Mudgee in NSW, is a tranquil and secluded village. It is listed by the National Trust as a Landscape Conservation Area because of its stunning beauty and abundant prime agricultural land. But its tranquillity is under threat.
Conservationists who gathered outside the Land and Environment Court on September 13 were extremely disappointed by the court decision to allow the continued discharge of polluted mine water into Sydney's drinking water supplies. They chanted "Wild rivers, not waste water" and "Clean water, not coal water" after the ruling.
Colong Foundation for Wilderness Director Keith Muir said: "4nature has failed to overturn the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) decision that allows Centennial Coal to discharge polluted water from the Springvale mine into the Coxs River.