A NSW judge has rejected a potential open-cut mine in the town of Gloucester, NSW due to the negative impact it would have on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Chief Judge Brian Preston ruled the negative impacts of the mine outweighed its economic and other public benefits, primarily because it would increase greenhouse gas emissions at a time when they urgently need to be cut.
The mine was initially proposed and rejected by the NSW Independent Planning Commission in late 2017. In response, the company behind the proposed Rocky Hill mine, Gloucester Resources Limited, took the NSW Planning Minister to the Land and Environment Court to appeal the decision.
The company argued the development would provide economic development in the region, with the mine expected to create 170 jobs and produce 21 million tonnes of coal over 16 years. Judge Preston, however, ruled these benefits paled in comparison to the negative impact in terms of emissions, with the burning of this much coal expected to produce over two million tons of carbon dioxide.
“The global problem of climate change needs to be addressed by multiple local actions to mitigate emissions,” Judge Preston said in his judgement.
“… the emissions of the coal mine and its coal product will increase global total concentrations of [greenhouse gases] at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in emissions.”
Many see the ruling as potentially influential in the approvals process for future fossil fuel projects, with Climate Council chief executive Amanda McKenzie stating the court effectively ruled that coal “is bad for us”.
“If I was proposing to build a coal mine right now, I’d be feeling pretty nervous,” McKenzie said.
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