Today the Queensland Land Court recommended Stage 3 of New Acland Coal’s controversial thermal coal mine in the Darling Downs region be refused unless new environmental conditions are put on the project by the government.

Today’s refusal is the latest stage in a long-running battle to protect some of the best farming land in the state by the Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA) – local landholders and farmers.

Since 2015, OCAA has been opposing the expansion in the courts, including a landmark win in Australia’s High Court earlier this year which prompted the latest Land Court re-hearing. OCAA has been represented throughout these challenges by the Environmental Defenders Office legal team (EDO).

“This was a very important hearing for the community,” said EDO Managing Lawyer Sean Ryan. ” Our clients were pleased to put their case to the Land Court, having won the right to do so through their landmark win in the High Court earlier this year.

“Our client is understandably disappointed that the project was not refused outright, given the importance of the agricultural land in the region and the community’s efforts to protect it for over a decade.

“While the mining leases were recommended to be granted once the environmental approval is resolved, the Department of Environment and Science and the Land Court were both persuaded that stronger conditions on the environmental approval were appropriate.

“These stronger conditions will require review by the Coordinator General.  The Land Court was clear that if the conditions are not changed to account for its reasons then the project should not be granted environmental approval.

“These hard-won added protections will go some way to safeguarding the community from the impacts of this mine if it does go ahead.

“We are consulting with our client around further legal options that may be available to them in their efforts to protect their community and prime agricultural land from mining.”