Environmental group CQ hopes the Queensland Territorial Court’s decision to recommend the state government reject Clive Palmer’s proposed Waratah coal mine will have ramifications for all new coal mines planned across the state.
The president of the Land Court, Fleur Kingham, backed arguments that the thermal coal mine in the Galilee Basin would impact on human rights by contributing to climate change.
Activist groups Youth Verdict and the Bimblebox Alliance, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), were also successful in arguing that the mine would likely destroy the Bimble Nature Refuge.
The ECtHR said it was the first time a coal mine in Australia had been challenged on human rights grounds.
Ms Kingham said she found several human rights would be curtailed by the project, which is proposed to mine two-thirds of the refuge underground.
“For Bimblebox owners, this is their right to property, privacy and home,” she said in her ruling.
“In relation to climate change, we found that the following rights of certain groups of people in Queensland would be limited: the right to life, the cultural rights of First Nations peoples, the rights of children, the right to property and privacy. and home and the right to enjoy human rights equally.”
She said the evidence suggested it was likely the refuge would be lost and that Bimblebox’s ecological values would be seriously and possibly irreversibly damaged.
It was hailed as a victory for the environment and human rights by Environmental Advocacy Central Queensland director Dr Coral Rowston.
She said she hoped it would have “far-reaching consequences for the new coal mines planned for Queensland”.
“The President of the Land Court, Fleur Kingham, has been clear in her reasons – coal burned in Queensland mines is exacerbating the climate crisis and Queenslanders are suffering directly as a result,” Dr Rowston said.
“The decision also shows that the environmental costs to Bimblebox Nature Refuge and First Nations communities from burning more coal cannot be outweighed by any perceived economic argument.”
At the start of her ruling, Ms Kingham said the case was not about the approval of new coal mines, but rather whether the Waratah coal mine should be approved.
She said while Waratah’s assessment of the $2.5 billion mine’s potential economic benefits were considerable, they were also uncertain in a market with declining demand for thermal coal.
Ms Kingham recommended the government reject the mining lease and environmental authority application for the proposed Central Queensland mine in her 372-page ruling delivered on Friday 25 November.
Dr Rowston called on Resources Minister Scott Stewart and the Department of Environment and Science to quickly implement the court’s recommendation and refuse the approvals.
A Queensland Government spokesman said the recommendations had been carefully considered.
Explaining the reasons for her recommendation, Ms Kingham said “the granting of permission to mine coal cannot be logically separated from the coal used to generate electricity”.
“The justification for the mine is to export coal for this purpose,” Ms Kingham said.
“As a matter of right, we have decided that I can take emissions into account in applying the principles of ecologically sustainable development (for the EA application) and in considering whether applications are in the public interest (for both ML and EA). applications).
“This case is about Queensland coal, mined in Queensland and exported from Queensland to be burned in power stations to generate electricity. Wherever coal is burned, emissions will contribute to environmental damage, including in Queensland.”