As the court date for the Rocky Hill Coal Mine appeal nears, Groundswell Gloucester and Gloucester Resources Limited (GRL) make their final preparations.
The NSW Land and Environment Court is due to hear the matter from Monday August 13, with dates booked for a visit to Gloucester.
The court, which could be sitting for up to three weeks, will be conducting a merit review of GRL’s proposed Rocky Hill project and Stratford Coal Pty Ltd’s proposed Stratford Extension Project. Both development applications were rejected by the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) in December 2017 after an independent Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) found the projects were not in the Gloucester community’s best interest.
GRL appealed the decision shortly after the rejection, requesting the application be reviewed on its merits and Stratford Coal has joined GRL in the action.
The court will review all the material related to the applications, as well as listen to expert testimony from climate change specialists and members of the community who have registered to speak. The court will then make its own decision on the applications, independent of the DPE’s decision.
Groundswell Gloucester, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office NSW, will be part of the defence for the DPE’s decision. Since the announcement of the appeal, Groundswell has been fundraising to help cover the court costs to represent the members of the Gloucester community opposed to the projects. It’s currently around $6000 short of its goal. Funds have been raised by private donors and fundraising events.
Groundswell chair, Julie Lyford said the group is very grateful to everyone for their support so far and she’s encouraging the community of Gloucester, whether for or against the projects, to attend the Gloucester court sessions.
The court will travel to Gloucester during the first week of the court session to visit the proposed mine site and talk to residents living nearest to it.
While in town, two public sessions will be held, with one on Thursday afternoon (August 16) and the other on Friday morning (August 17) at Gloucester Soldiers Club.
GRL chief operating officer, Brian Clifford said he was looking forward to the opportunity for GRL and its experts to present facts about the project.
The final decision about the applications isn’t expected to be made for several weeks after the court case is finished which is currently scheduled for August 31.
To support Groundswell Gloucester visit https://www.groundswellgloucester.com/ or the groups Facebook page.