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New Acland Coal Mine agreement with Qld government a result of bullying, lawyer says

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An environmental lawyer has accused the Queensland authorities of permitting itself to be “bullied” by failing to prosecute a coal firm over alleged unlawful mining within the state’s south.

New Hope Group and the Division of Surroundings and Science (DES) this week reached an agreement for the corporate to rehabilitate greater than 100 hectares of land following investigations into “alleged unauthorised disturbances” in an space often known as West Pit, at its New Acland Coal Mine close to Oakey.

DES stated the corporate had utilized for the rehabilitation settlement as an alternative choice to enforcement motion.

Queensland barrister Chris McGrath has been concerned in a number of instances involving the New Acland mine and stated, as a part of the corporate’s mine approvals, it was already required to rehabilitate the mine web site. 

“I believe that is an unimaginable final result for New Hope and so they have succeeded in … bullying the Queensland authorities into successfully taking no motion for a significant breach of our state’s environmental legal guidelines,” he stated.

“It is nothing. It is like saying, ‘I will obey the velocity restrict’, and saying that that is an excellent factor.”

A satellite image of New Acland's West Pit from June 2020.
Within the decrease left nook is the West Pit, which is exterior the unique approval for the mine.(Equipped: Google Earth)

A ‘disappointing’ final result

Oakey farmer Tanya Plant first raised considerations concerning the mining of West Pit throughout 2016 and stated she was disenchanted by the result. 

“It actually does not do a lot to revive folks’s religion within the authorities with the ability to implement circumstances,” she stated. 

“It was good that they’ve lastly carried out one thing, but it surely’s disappointing that they have not carried out extra about it.”

She stated folks had change into cynical after the corporate acquired small fines for noise breaches.

Queensland Surroundings Minister Meaghan Scanlon has been contacted for remark.

Tanya Plant
Acland farmer Tanya Plant is amongst landholders opposing stage three of the New Acland Coal Mine.(ABC Information)

A DES spokesperson said on Thursday the deal had put an end to extensive enquiries into the matter and would lead to about 140 hectares of land for conservation and koala habitat as soon as mining ended at New Acland.

The mine’s basic supervisor Dave O’Dwyer stated its West Pit mining operation had been included in its plans.

“Nonetheless, the DES disputed this as an accepted type of authorisation,” he stated.

Mine closure hits city

Greater than 280 employees have been made redundant from the mine since 2019, with solely 20 workers remaining on-site for care and upkeep.

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