The Queensland Land Court today recommended that the Wandoan coal mine proceed despite concerns raised by Friends of the Earth about the impacts of burning coal. Friends of the Earth, in a unique challenge to the mine's approval, argued for the outright refusal of the mega coal mine based on climate change impacts.
“The decision to recommend this mine to go ahead is a huge disappointment,” said Friends of the Earth spokesperson Dr Bradley Smith. “We demonstrated to the court and Xstrata that this project will exacerbate climate change, and they're going ahead anyway.”
The science of climate change was not disputed from Friends of the Earth and Xstrata that the mine will contribute to climate change and climate change will cause environmental harm. The court however could not take into consideration the impact from the coal burning emissions and their impacts to the Queensland environment.
"Xstrata did not contest the reality or impacts of climate change. They're planning on building this mine knowing that it will create the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as 72 countries combined,” said Dr Smith. “It's unfortunate that our laws allow multi-billion dollar companies like Xstrata to ignore the outcomes of their reckless actions.”
Good news for the landholders of Wandoan. The court decided generally in favour to protect the land and resources of the landholders, including not approving development of the mine within 100m of some houses. It is likely this will see farmland and homes stranded in the middle of the 320 sq km mine.
This recommendation handed down by the land court will go before Campbell Newman's new Environment Minister for the final decision. The Environment Minister is expected to wait for the outcome of any appeal to the Land Appeal Court before making a final decision.
“This will be the first big decision for Campbell Newman's government. We call upon the Premier to act responsibly and to fix these laws to ensure our climate, farmland and Great Barrier Reef are not under threat because of the Queensland coal industry,” said Dr Smith.
The Wandoan coal mega mine covers an area of 32 000 hectares (320 Sq km) of agricultural land. This is larger than Stradbroke Island off the coast of Brisbane and will be almost double the size of Queensland’s current largest coal mine. If established this mine will be the largest in the southern hemisphere.
“Taking on a billion dollar monolith like Xstrata is no mean feat, but it's a fight we had to have and a fight we will continue. We'll do everything we can to stop this mine from going ahead” said Dr Smith. “We will be weighing up our opportunities for appeal with our legal team”.
The full decision can be found below
Bradley Smith, Friends of the Earth mob 0413 280 006
Derec Davies, Friends of the Earth mob 0421 835 587