The recent decision of the NSW's Land and Environment Court has had global reverberations and environmental groups applauding. In Gloucester Resources Ltd v Minister for Planning, the Court considered a request for approval of a proposed coal mine. They considered this in the context of emissions of greenhouse gases and their effect on climate change, the impact on existing, approved and preferred uses of land in the vicinity, and the social implications it would have on the environs and the Aboriginal community.
The Court refused development consent for an open cut coal mine because it considered it would not be a sustainable use of the land and would cause environmental and social harm. The Rocky Hill Coal Project was, in the words of the Chief Judge, “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
The implications of the decision are significant for fossil fuel projects generally. Climate change considerations of a project will be an influence on whether it will be approved and highlights the enhanced risks and challenges in obtaining approval for such projects.
There are also implications for company directors. In company law, climate change is one of the risks that directors need to consider and disclose as part of their duties.
It is highly likely the judgment will have a profound influence across the legal landscape in Australia, and the Rocky Hill Coal Project will not be the last to be rejected due to the harmful effects on climate change.
Contact Our Land and Environment Court Solicitors, Sydney, NSW
Szabo & Associates Solicitors are experienced practitioners in Land and Environment Court matters. If you require advice or assistance in relation to these issues or to legal issues relating to climate change generally please call us on (02) 9158 6333 or fill in our online contact form.