EDO gives ordinary people a legal voice against powerful companies in defence of their communities, heritage and personal property.

Within this case we provided the Hunter Valley community with the legal tools needed to successfully oppose the extension of Yancoal’s Ashton South East Open Cut Coal mine near Camberwell, first in a merits appeal before the NSW Land and Environment Court and most recently before the Independent Planning Commission in relation to Ashton’s application to modify its conditions of approval.

In 2013, EDO’s client the Hunter Environment Lobby (HEL) successfully appealed against the decision of the Planning Assessment Commission to approve the mine. 

Ashton coal’s extension project had been environmentally assessed on the basis that the open cut coal mine would totally consume farmer Mrs Wendy Bowman’s property. The Land and Environment Court found that, while approval could be granted for the expansion, the development could not start until Ashton acquired Mrs Bowman’s farm. Ashton Coal needed the property both to get to the coal and to manage impacts to groundwater and surface water from the mine.

In 2015, Ashton Coal appealed against these conditions in the NSW Court of Appeal. HEL, EDO’s client, successfully defended the appeal – the Court dismissed it in November 2015. This means that in order to commence the project, Ashton Coal needs to purchase, lease or license Mrs Bowman’s property ‘Rosedale’. Mrs Bowman has refused and continues to refuse to allow Yancoal to acquire these rights to her property.

More recently, in mid-2018, EDO presented legal submissions to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) on the proposal by Yancoal to change the terms of its Court-made approval. The modification was an attempt to relax the lapse period of the approval, which is due to expire in 2022 – modification would have given the mine an indefinite approval. It was also an attempt to postpone the voluntary acquisition rights of the remaining private residents in Camberwell village. The community opposed Yancoal’s modification application because it was seen as an attempt by the mining giant to allow it to determine when it will go ahead with the mine.

Following receipt of submissions from EDO, the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) refused to make those amendments. The EDO successfully argued that a change to the approval condition would have placed an intolerable burden on Ms Bowman and residents from Camberwell.

In 2017, Mrs Bowman was awarded the international Goldman Environmental Award for her stance against the mine.

EDO New South Wales is the legal entity acting in this case. EDO NSW began trading as EDO Ltd in September 2019.