By Ben Wilson
Great news has come in. As the result of a long battle on the ground by local community members, and led by the anti-fracking group Groundswell Gloucester, an important victory has just been won.
The mining company behind the Rocky Hill coal mine issued a brief press release yesterday (8 May 2019), making it clear that it will not go ahead with the project. It appeared in the local newspaper, the Gloucester Advocate.
This is what it said.
Gloucester Resources Limited has decided not to pursue its appeal options through the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal.
This means the Rocky Hill Mine will not proceed.
GRL will now carry out further assessment its current Exploration Licenses in the area.
It is a direct result of an unfavourable ruling for the company at the NSW Land and Environment Court in February. The company had until 8 May to lodge an appeal.
Chief judge Brian Preston had handed down his decision on the basis that the mine was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Groundswell Gloucester had made the case that that the mine would have a detrimental impact on climate change and the social fabric of the town must be considered. Expert evidence was presented to back this up.
Justice Preston said in his final statement: “The construction and operation of the mine, and the transportation of and combustion of the coal from the mine, will result in the emission of greenhouse gases, which will contribute to climate change.”
The case has profound implications, because it set a precedent for NSW courts to make rulings on the basis of an impact on the impact of a case on climate change. This will have an influence across Australia.
David Morris of the Environmental Defenders Office of NSW said: “This is the leading case for how decision makers should take into consideration a project’s impact on climate change, and on the social health and wellbeing and cultural health of the community.”
This would win would not have occurred, were it not for all those who have fought in and around Gloucester to stop the mine going ahead, and the all the people around Australia, campaigning for action on the threat of global warming. They are changing what the Australian community wants, and this is a poweful force for change.
Environmental group Lock the Gate has called on the government to take “this historic opportunity” to apply the same to other mines in the state. For example, United Wambo and Bylong, which are now before the Independent Planning Commission.