Brisbane Supreme and District Courts
Brisbane Supreme and District Courts

Environmentalists fume at court after losing

ENVIRONMENTALISTS have dubbed a Queensland Court of Appeal judgment "ridiculous" and a mining company's argument "nonsensical" after losing an appeal.

The Court of Appeal on Tuesday ruled against environmental group Coast and Country's attempt to stop the GVK Hancock Alpha mine from proceeding.

Coast and Country argued the emissions from burning the coal the mine would produce would impact the climate and the Great Barrier Reef.

But the court agreed with previous Queensland Land Court and Supreme Court rulings that the amount of coal power plants would burn would remain the same regardless of whether the Alpha mine proceeded.

Justice Hugh Fraser found Coast and Country had failed to make out any grounds of the appeal.

"The primary judge dismissed the application against the Environmental Protection Agency Minister on the ground that the Land Court's recommendations were valid. That decision should be affirmed on the same ground," he said.

Coast and Country spokesman Derec Davies said the court's ruling was "ridiculous" and the miner's claims were "nonsensical".

"Today's court decision fails to overcome the nonsensical claim made by the Queensland Government and GVK Hancock that there will be no decrease in global carbon emissions if the Alpha coal mine does not proceed because another mine will be developed somewhere else in the world to fill its place. This claim, known as the 'substitution argument', infers the mine will have no climate impact to Queensland," he said.

"The notion of 'substitution' is ridiculous. If applied to criminal law it would see an offender exonerated on the basis of the argument that 'if I didn't do it, someone else would'. It would be like a police officer not stopping a hitman because the victim would be killed by someone else anyway."

But Justice Fraser said Land Court member Paul Smith "took into account his finding that the power stations would burn the same amount of coal and produce at least the same amount of ... emissions whether or not the mine proceeded; if the mine proceeded it would not increase the amount of global greenhouse gases or any environmental impact resulting from those gases".

Speaking outside court GVK Hancock spokesman Josh Euler said the decision meant progress, the mine could continue.

"This project will create thousands of jobs for Queensland. It will be a great shot in the arm for central Queensland who is currently doing it tough at the moment with the economic downturn," he said.


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