The Australian Coal Alliance’s Land and Environment Court challenge to the NSW Government’s approval of the Wallarah II coal mine will be an Australian first, according to the NSW Environmental Defenders’ Office.
“In an Australian first, the NSW Land and Environment Court will hear arguments about the consideration of the Ecologically Sustainable Development principle of intergenerational equity in the context of climate change,” said CEO of the EDO, Mr David Morris. He said he could confirm that EDO NSW, on behalf of the Australian Coal Alliance (ACA), filed proceedings challenging the validity of the January 2018 Planning Assessment Committee (PAC) approval of the Wallarah II longwall coal mine.
“The decision maker, in this case, was required by law to consider the public interest in approving the Project,” Mr Morris said. “In 2018, we say that requires them to turn their mind to the impacts decisions of today will have on future generations, and also consider what we don’t yet know by applying the precautionary principle. “Our client will argue that the PAC, when considering the Wallarah II project, considered neither, and in doing so, acted unlawfully, rendering the approval of this large coal project invalid. “Wallarah IIwill make a substantial contribution to greenhouse gas emissions estimated to be 264+ million tonnes of CO2 over the 28 year life of the mine.
“The PAC chose not to take into account emissions from the burning of coal mined at Wallarah II. “Our client will argue that the law, correctly applied, mandates a consideration of those impacts. “This type of legal action is at the very heart of our democracy, aiming to ensure that our elected officials, and their delegates, follow the law. “We’re arguing that the law, in this case, wasn’t followed with respect to climate change impacts and the ESD principle of intergenerational equity. “This case is by its very nature climate change litigation, and we’re seeing more and more of that in Australia. “The science is unequivocal.
“Continuing to approve coal mines in NSW, absent some other major change, threatens the goal of avoiding dangerous climate change under the Paris Agreement.” According to the EDO, the case will be fought on ten grounds concerning greenhouse gas emissions, flooding impacts and compensation, and risks to the water supply. Climate change is likely to also increase flooding events, and the Wallarah II mine will create permanent landscape changes, including subsidence, that will alter and potentially exacerbate these flood events into the future, according to the EDO.
Source: Media release, Apr 16 Susan Ardill, NSW Environmental Defenders Office