Australia: Court dismisses Gloucester Resources' appeal re rejection of coal mine, on climate change grounds

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Article
15 February 2019

Commentary: Coal miners derided climate action 'sideshow'. Now it's the main event

Author: David Morris & Brendan Dobbie, NSW Environmental Defenders Office, on Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

"Coal miners derided climate action 'sideshow'. Now it's the main event", 11 Feb 2019

The nascent field of climate litigation in Australia came of age on Friday. The Chief Judge of the NSW Land and Environment Court, Brian Preston, delivered a landmark judgment refusing to approve a new coal mine because of its impacts on climate change. In the Chief Judge’s words, the mine proposal was in the wrong place at the wrong time...

The ramifications are likely to ripple out across Australia and possibly the world. This is climate litigation writ large...

...[W]hat his judgment says about climate change is of greatest significance. The court accepted the evidence put by Professor Will Steffen about the global carbon budget – that is, there is a limit on the amount of fossil fuels that can be burnt if we are to meet the Paris Agreement targets and avoid dangerous climate change...

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Article
8 February 2019

Australian Judge Rejects Coal Mine on Climate Grounds

Author: Karen Savage, Climate Liability News (US)

In a landmark decision, an Australian court on [8 February 2019] rejected a plan to build an open-cut coal mine because of the proposed mine’s harmful effects on climate change…

The decision stopped a controversial plan by Gloucester Resources Limited to build its proposed Rocky Hill coal mine just outside Gloucester, a town of about 3,000 people. The proposed mine would have extracted up to 2 million tons of coal a year for the next two decades. The mine, first proposed nearly a decade ago, was rejected by the New South Wales Planning Assessment Commission in December 2017, but Gloucester Resources was allowed to appeal.

The Environmental Defenders Office of New South Wales, which represented the community group Groundswell Gloucester during a hearing last August, argued that the mine was detrimental to the interests of the surrounding community, would worsen climate change and would prevent Australia from meeting the emissions targets it promised to the Paris Climate Agreement…The court agreed, ruling that even though the mine would contribute only a fraction of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, any contribution to a worsening climate was enough to halt the project…

Gloucester Resources did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Chief Operating Officer Brian Clifford said he is disappointed and the company is reviewing its options. The decision is anticipated to have widespread ramifications for future fossil fuel projects…

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Item
8 February 2019

Gloucester Resources Limited v Minister for Planning [2019]

Author: Land and Environment Court, New South Wales (Australia)

[full text of the judgment]

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Article
8 February 2019

We won': Landmark climate ruling as NSW court rejects coal mine

Author: Peter Hannam, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

Environmental groups are cheering a decision in NSW's Land and Environment Court that found the emissions of greenhouse gases and resulting climate change from a proposed coal mine were among the reasons to reject the project.

Brian Preston, chief judge of the court, handed down his judgment in a case between Gloucester Resources Ltd and the NSW Planning Minister in Sydney on Friday. He concluded the mine project was "in the wrong place at the wrong time".

He dismissed an appeal by developers of the controversial Rocky Hill open-cut coal mine near the Mid North Coast town of Gloucester against any earlier planning rejection...

Justice Preston noted the "significant adverse social impacts on the community" from the proposed mine but - in a court-first in Australia - highlighted the climate impacts of coal mining...

Brian Clifford, chief operating officer for Gloucester Resources said the company was disappointed by the court's decision after the mine had "met all the non-discretionary criteria".

"Gloucester Resources Limited will assess the implications of today’s decision and consider its
next steps,"...

 

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