Linc class action gets conditional funding
EXCLUSIVE: A landholder class action against Linc Energy and the Queensland Government has received conditional funding approval from a London-based litigation funder.
A group of Hopeland land owners, led by Pam Bender - wife of the late George Bender - have been working with solicitors and barristers to build a case since late 2015.
Tom Marland, principal solicitor for Marland Law, said the secured funding was a "shot of confidence” for the class action.
"An institutional litigation funder from London thinks the case has got merit and is willing to put significant amount of capital forward to allow us to run the case,” he said.
"It's taken a long time and a lot of hard work behind the scenes to get (the case) to where it is now and it is good to see it coming to fruition.”
However, funding from London-based firm Woodsford Litigation Funding is conditional upon the number of landholders that sign on to the class action.
In February 2015, the Queensland Government established a 300 sq km Excavation Caution Zone (ECZ) around the Linc Energy Underground Coal Gasification trial site because of evidence of alleged soil and groundwater contamination caused by the facility.
The presence of the ECZ, which lawyers say has created a "stigma” over the affected land, has the potential to significantly devalue the properties over which it is placed.
The class action has engaged a valuation firm, Leichardt Group, to undertake preliminary valuations to provide an estimate of potential damages.
Of the 134 separate landowners within the ECZ, around 40% have so far signed onto the class action.
Marland Law estimates that around 75% of the land contained within the ECZ must be part of the group for the action to be viable.
"We've got a viable action, we've got funding... it really does need the community to get on board with it otherwise it's just not going to happen,” Mr Marland said.
A community meeting has been called for 3pm tomorrow at the Club Hotel, 131 Heeney Street, Chinchilla, to discuss the new development.
Linc Energy is currently facing five charges of wilfully and unlawfully causing serious environmental harm in breach of the Environmental Protection Act (1994) at its Hopeland underground coal gasification plant between 2007 and 2013.
Linc Energy has continued to refute all charges brought against it by the Queensland Government.
The company went into voluntary administration in April and is currently in liquidation.