Landowner condemns Acland expansion review

Dr Tanya Plant, who has fought the expansion of the New Acland Coal Mine for 18 months in court.
Dr Tanya Plant, who has fought the expansion of the New Acland Coal Mine for 18 months in court. Marc Tomas

TANYA Plant was one of dozens who celebrated after the expansion of the New Acland Coal Mine was rejected in court - but now she faces a nervous wait.

The Darling Downs farmer is concerned the mine's owner New Hope applied for a judicial review into last month's Land Court decision, saying the move would prolong the anxiety of the community over the issue.

In its submissions to the Supreme Court on Thursday, the company's subsidiary New Acland Coal applied for both a review into the decision and a "stay of decision" on the expansion for both the Department of Heritage Protection and Minister Anthony Lynham.

If approved for the judicial review, NAC will argue Land Court tribunal member Paul Smith "made an error of law" by failing to interpret sections of both the Environmental Protection Act and Mineral Resources Act.

The application stated that Mr Smith "erred by interpreting his administrative role as vesting him with an unfettered inquisitorial role" to rule on the objection from landholders and anti-coal activists.

Dr Plant, who fought the expansion in the Land Court over 18 months, said the latest developments were disappointing.

"From my view, the court was a very thorough and fair process and analysed a whole heap of evidence and witnesses," she said.

"In terms of this (application), some of the things they're trying to argue is that the judge shouldn't have considered their past performance.

"It is concerning. I think we've all been through a lot. It's cost us all a lot.

"This judicial review has the potential to be expensive, cause more delays and create more uncertainty and restlessness in the community."

In his final 400-page report, Mr Smith said an approved mining lease application would cause "adverse environmental impacts", recommending Stage 3 be rejected by Dr Lynham.

Dr Plant queried New Acland's desire to delay proceeding further, when the company had previously wanted the court case finished as quickly as possible.

"Through the whole Land Court case, they stated they had to hear it urgently, (so) we all worked really hard to get it done," she said.

"Now they're specifically putting forward an action to cause a delay - the judicial review process could take a year.

"With time, it gives them an opportunity to cause more agitation in the community."

New Hope was contacted by The Chronicle for comment.

Topics:  land court new acland coal mine new acland review toowoomba

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