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TIMELINE: Evidence on final day of New Acland case

THE final evidence in the Land Court case over the expansion of the New Acland Coal Mine has been presented on the last day of the hearing.

Statements from New Acland Coal and groups and farmers against the mine were presented to Member Paul Smith in Brisbane today as the case "Ashman v New Acland" wraps up ahead of deliberations.

Mr Smith's judgement, which was not expected today, will then determine whether New Acland Coal and its parent company New Hope's application to expand the mine should be allowed, based on its potential impacts on groundwater and other environmental concerns.

Reports from groundwater experts were presented to the court, followed by questioning by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

The Darling Downs Environment Council and the Oakey Coal Action Alliance also asked questions about bores that had gone dry and the future of water security for the region's farmers.

 

Speaking for both groups, alliance secretary Paul King said the evidence was clear about the long-term effects of mine expansion.

"These alone are good reasons for this project not to go ahead," he said.

"Even those who believe in coal mining now accept it has no place on our most productive agricultural land.

"We expect the Land Court will look to the future, not cling to the past."

When asked by The Chronicle for its final statements, a spokeswoman for New Hope said: "As we are still before the court with closing submissions still to be made in the coming weeks, New Hope will not be making any statements in regard to this matter."

The Land Court's recommendation will be handed down in the weeks ahead, but the final decision rests with the Palaszczuk Government and Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham.

Mr Smith had previously lashed New Acland Coal during the court battle, after the mining giant submitted favourable reports in February on the environmental impacts of stage three long after the required deadline.

A DECADE ON, THE BATTLE CONTINUES

The battle to expand the New Acland Coal Mine has gone on for more than one decade, ever since the mining giant announced its intention to expand in 2006.

The town of Acland was essentially closed down as part of the expansion plan, leading to a fight-back from farmers, landholders and green groups.

The case was first in court on March 7, 2016 and Mr Smith presided over 88 days in a trial expected to take just 10 weeks.

At the same time, New Acland Coal has fought the State Government's new licence laws and had its expansion approved by the Federal Government earlier this year.

Topics:  new acland new hope group oakey coal action alliance toowoomba


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