Korean Government-owned KEPCO has launched an appeal against the NSW Land and Environment Court’s decision to uphold the refusal of a huge coal mine in the Bylong Valley.
The Bylong Valley Protection Alliance (BVPA) has fought against the mine for years, supported with legal advice and representation from the Environmental Defenders Office.
The mine was originally refused by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) in September 2019, a decision that was upheld by the Land and Environment Court in December 2020.
KEPCO filed an appeal in the NSW Court of Appeal in March 2021.
EDO Managing Lawyer Rana Koroglu said:
“The commission found that this mine should be refused on a number of grounds, including its climate impacts, so it’s very disappointing to see that KEPCO is appealing the Land and Environment Court’s decision.
“Last year, the Bylong Valley Protection Alliance, represented by the EDO, went to court to win the right to join the appeal and defend the commission’s decision to refuse this mine.
“Having done that, we argued successfully for the IPC’s refusal of the mine to be upheld.
“We will be speaking with our clients in the coming days to discuss next steps as they continue to defend the rejection of this mine through the courts.”
The Bylong Valley coal mine is a proposed 6.5 million tonnes-per-year open cut and underground thermal coal mine, planned by Korean company KEPCO in an area of the New South Wales central tablelands, known for its scenic beauty and agricultural productivity.
Acting for the Bylong Valley Protection Alliance, EDO lawyers presented the NSW IPC with independent expert evidence, including on the mine’s climate change impacts. In September 2019, the commission rejected the mine, and found it was contrary to the principles of ecologically sustainable development, citing impacts on climate, groundwater, agricultural land and aesthetic, scenic, heritage and natural values in its Statement of Reasons for the refusal.
KEPCO applied for judicial review of the decision in December 2019.
The community was left on its own to defend the commission’s decision in court, as the commission chose to take no active role in the proceedings.
Without the Environmental Defenders Office representing the BVPA, it is likely KEPCO’s challenge would have taken place without any active contradictor.
The judicial review hearing in the NSW Land and Environment Court took place in August 2020. On 18 December 2020, the Land and Environment Court upheld the commission’s decision to refuse the mine.