The New South Wales Court of Appeal delivered the verdict to refuse the Bylong Coal Project.
The decision comes two years after the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) first rejected the Korean mining giant, KEPCP's 6.5 million-tonnes-per-year greenfield coal mine.
The IPC labelled the greenhouse gas emissions from the proposed project ‘problematical’.
That court upheld the IPC decision but KEPCO appealed again but within the Court of Appeal, which handed down its decision this morning.
“Congratulations to Bylong Valley Protection Alliance, who have fought doggedly for years to save their beautiful region, and to the Environmental Defenders Office for so ably representing their client,” Nature Conservation Council Chris Gambian said.
“Today’s decision should be the end of years of uncertainty for local landholders and communities who have fought a David-and-Goliath struggle to save their way of life and their beautiful valley.
The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), who represented the Bylong Valley Protection Alliance (BVPA) was delighted by the outcomes.
“This is the third time this destructive and climate-wrecking coal mine proposal has been defeated – first in the Independent Planning Commission, then in the Land and Environment Court, and now in the NSW Court of Appeal. It’s time for the proponent KEPCO to walk away.
“The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report delivered a ‘Code Red’ for humanity on climate. It’s clear we cannot afford to develop more greenfield coal mines at a time when the world needs to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The South Korean Government, a majority stake owner in KEPCO, has recently committed to increasing its emissions targets to a 40% reduction by 2030," Managing Lawyer Rana Koroglu said.
KEPCO has been ordered to pay BVPA’s costs.
In September 2019, the NSW Independent Planning Commission found the Bylong Coal Project was contrary to the principles of ecologically sustainable development, cited impacts on groundwater, climate, agricultural land and aesthetic, scenic, heritage and natural values in its Statement of Reasons for the refusal.
Acting for the Bylong Valley Protection Alliance, EDO lawyers had presented the Commission with expert evidence, including on the mine’s climate change impacts. In its Statement of Reasons, the Commission said that the greenhouse gas aspects of the project were ‘problematical’.
KEPCO applied for judicial review of the decision in December 2019.
While the IPC declined to defend its decision on the basis it may compromise its impartiality, in May 2020 the Bylong Valley Protection Alliance successfully applied to become a full party to the judicial review, represented by EDO.
The judicial review was heard in the NSW Land and Environment Court in August 2020 and in December 2020, KEPCO’s appeal was rejected.
A further appeal against the NSW Land and Environment Court decision was lodged by KEPCO in March 2021 and was heard by the NSW Court of Appeal on 25 August 2021.
Image Credit: Lock The Gate Alliance / Flickr