Hume Coal: appealing “significant improvements” rule would be futile
Hume Coal has ruled out seeking leave to appeal the recent decision handed down by Chief Justice Brian Preston of the New South Wales Land and Environment court (s31 Appeal Decision).
Previously on 10 May 2016, Justice Preston ruled that certain farm assets had been "significantly improved" and therefore should be off limits to miners under section 31 of the NSW Mining Act.
Greig Duncan, Project Director for Hume Coal, said that land access for exploration and mining companies has been an ongoing issue in NSW for decades. “It’s now a matter of urgency and up to the State government to take this issue seriously and implement changes to the legislation, which clarify the rights of landowners, explorers and ultimately investors in NSW” he said.
Duncan said an appeal of Chief Justice Preston’s ruling would be futile. The s31 Appeal Decision did not address an earlier decision by Sheahan J in Hume Coal Pty Limited v Alexander (No 3)  NSW LEC 58 that is clearly inconsistent with the s31 Appeal Decision, leaving the NSW mining law jurisprudence in disarray.
In 2014, Bret Walker SC was commissioned by the NSW government to undertake a review on the land access. Walker SC came up with 32 recommendations, of which several pertained to ‘significant improvements’. Of note was the following:
Recommendation 23 (Walker Review 2014):
“That Mining Act … be amended to provide that a landholder cannot unreasonably withhold consent in relation to significant improvements or improvements.”
Duncan has indicated that the ball is now in the State government’s court. If government are looking for investment in NSW to continue, they must address the legislation with a matter of urgency.
While Hume Coal was disappointed by the decision, the progress of the Environmental Impact Statement is continuing, with the aim of submitting to the government later this year.
Hume Coal is continuing to seek approval of the project, which it reported would provide 300 permanent jobs, boost the local economy and benefit the state of NSW.
“We will ensure our proposed development is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, and provides much needed economic growth for the region” he said.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/coal/23052016/hume-coal-appealing-significant-improvements-rule-would-be-futile-827/
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