Clive Palmer’s planned Waratah Coal mine should be turned down due to its potential environmental impacts and contribution to climate change, a Queensland court has heard.
The Queensland Land Court ruled on Friday in favor of the case against the mine lease and environmental approval brought by the Environmental Defenders Office on behalf of Youth Verdict and The Bimblebox Alliance.
Chief Justice Fleur Kingham said the project’s mining lease and environmental authority should be denied by the state government because of its potential contribution from burning the thermal coal it produces to change climatic.
“As a matter of law, I have decided that I can incorporate the emissions into the principles of environmentally sustainable development for the environmental authority’s application, and by considering whether the applications are in the public interest on both the mining lease and the demands of the environmental authority,” she said on Friday.
“This case concerns Queensland coal mined here in Queensland and exported from Queensland to be burned in power stations to generate electricity.
“Wherever coal is burned, the emissions will contribute to environmental harm, including in Queensland.”
Chairman Kingham said she rejected Waratah’s argument that the coal mined from the project would be of higher quality, displacing lower quality coal projects elsewhere.
She said there was a risk that the mine would also not be economically viable for the full projected life.
“Ultimately, I decided that the climate scenario compatible with a viable mine risked unacceptable climate change impacts on people and property in Queensland, even taking into account the economic and social benefits of the project.”
She also said the impacts of the mine subsidence on the ecological values of the nearby 8,000-hectare Bimblebox nature reserve were uncertain and potentially severe.
“The evidence suggests that it is likely that the refuge will be lost and that the ecological values of Bimblebox will be seriously and possibly irreversibly damaged,” President Kingham said.
“There is no credible plan in court to compensate for such a loss, and the evidence leads me to wonder if a plan could be developed and implemented.”
The judge warned that her decision was a recommendation, with the government to make the final decision on the lease of the mine and the environmental authority to proceed.
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