On the 8 February 2019, Chief Judge Preston delivered a landmark decision in the NSW Land and Environment Court.  The case was Gloucester Resources Limited v Minister for Planning [2019] NSWLEC 7.  The court found against the proposed Rocky Hill Coal Project in the NSW Hunter Valley. 

The appellant had appealed the Minister’s decision not to approve the Rocky Hill Coal Project.  Chief Judge Preston gave a number of reasons for dismissing the coal mining company’s appeal.  One of his honour’s reasons for dismissing the appeal was the climate change impacts of the mine. 

Commentators are already saying that this is a landmark decision.  It is the first case where the NSWLEC has relied on climate change impacts in making a decision. 

From the judgement: 

[687] The Rocky Hill Coal Project will yield public benefits, including economic benefits, but it will also have significant negative impacts, including visual, amenity, social and climate change impacts (my emphasis), and impacts on the existing, approved and likely preferred uses of land in the vicinity of the Project, which are all costs of the Project. 
[688] I find that the negative impacts of the Project, including the planning impacts on the existing, approved and likely preferred land uses, visual impacts, the amenity impacts of noise and dust that cause social impacts, other social impacts, and climate change impacts (my emphasis), outweigh the economic and other public benefits of the Project. 


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Paul Akon
Lecturer, UNE Law School