Environmentalists Win Landmark Case Against NSW Coal Mine

by: Lucy Jones | 1 month ago | News

A coal mine in NSW's Hunter Valley. Image source.

A major NSW coal mine has been canned because of climate change. The Land and Environment Court rejected the mine last week in a huge win for environmental groups and the planet. The court ruled that the proposed open-cut coal mine could not be approved because its greenhouse gas emissions would contribute to climate change. The landmark decision has set a new precedent for environmental lawyers in Australia and all around the world.

Brian Preston, the judge presiding over the case, said the proposed mine would have "significant adverse social impacts on the community".

"The construction and operation of the mine, and the transportation and combustion of the coal from the mine, will result in the emission of greenhouse gases, which will contribute to climate change," Justice Preston said in his judgement.

This is the first time a Australian court has cited greenhouse gas emissions and climate change as reasons for the refusal of a new coal mine. In his summary, Justice Preston said the Rocky Hill coal mine was proposed "in the wrong place at the wrong time".

"Countries around the world are increasingly taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their countries, not only to meet their nationally determined contributions but also to reduce air pollution," he explained.

Climate change experts have welcomed the decision. Will Steffen, an Australian National University professor who gave evidence about the environmental impact of coal during the proceedings, said the ruling will help to transform the energy sector.

"This landmark decision sends a clear message to the fossil fuel industry that it cannot continue to expand if we are serious about tackling climate change," he said.

"Shutting the door on new fossil fuel developments will be a major turning point in the battle to stabilise the climate system - and will add further momentum to the shift to clean, reliable renewable energy systems."

Climate Council chief executive Amanda McKenzie agreed that this was a significant win for climate scientists and the planet.

"The NSW Land and Environment court has effectively ruled that coal — just like tobacco and asbestos — is bad for us," McKenzie said in a statement.

"I'm thrilled to see the law catching up with the science."

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