The State Government has refused an application to amend the Environmental Authority (EA) for the New Acland Stage 3 extension project.
New Hope Group managing director Shane Stephan said the company was disappointed with the outcome and was considering its options in response.
“As previously advised, a judicial review of the Land Court decision is under way,” he said.
“The company is committed to securing approval for this project and, in doing so, being able to provide ongoing employment for the circa 700 jobs reliant on the project.”
The Land Court last year recommended Stage 3 be refused following a public hearing including submissions from the Oakey Coal Action Alliance.
Environmental Defenders Office Queensland chief executive officer and solicitor Jo-Anne Bragg said the Department of Environment and Science had done right by the community this week with a fair and correct decision on New Acland.
“However, despite today’s decision, the strain of uncertainty on our clients and other community objectors continues,” she said.
“New Acland Coal has applied for judicial review of the Land Court’s decision, which could in turn invalidate the department’s decision. The review hearing is scheduled for 19 March this year, continuing a decade of uncertainty for the Acland community.
“The Mines Minister must also still make his decision about whether or not to grant the required mining leases.”
She said the EDO strongly believed the Land Court’s powers should be strengthened to have the final say on decisions of environmental authorities for proposed mining projects – not the current recommendations the government must only consider when making the final decision.
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the Department of Environment and Science decision had dealt a blow to regional employment.
“This very surprising decision, handed down without any reasoning or explanation, puts at risk more than 700 jobs despite the project undergoing rigorous government assessment processes, including an examination by the Independent Expert Scientific Committee as part of the Federal Government’s approval,” he said.
“This project is vital to the Darling Downs and would create a further 2300 indirect jobs and create $12 billion in economic benefits over the life of the project.
“Such a significant amount of job losses will have devastating flow-on effects to such a small community and the surrounding businesses that rely on the mine. “