Australian court bars new coal mine project in landmark win for green lobby

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Developers possess a court attract build a coal mine in Australia’s Hunter Valley over its potentially “dire” environmental impact inside country’s first legal does it a coal mine project to listen to evidence from a climate scientist.

In the landmark ruling, Justice Brian Preston on Friday denied the appeal in the Rocky Hill project in Nsw state, citing a rise greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to uncertain economic benefits and adverse social and visual impacts.

The Rocky Hill project was developed by privately held Gloucester Resources, one of GRL Holdings Pty Ltd, which includes the right to appeal to the New South Wales supreme court.

“Gloucester Resources Limited will study the implications of today’s decision and consider its next steps,” it said within a statement.

Australia would be the world’s biggest coal exporter plus the fuel is its largest resources earner. Canberra during the past year scrapped plans on a national energy policy that aimed to mow carbon emissions not to mention power prices to some extent due to opposition from coal supporters within its ranks.

In his ruling, the judge found out that mine and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would improve the entire global total “at once when what exactly now urgently needed, to meet up with generally agreed climate targets, can be a rapid and deep lessing of GHG emissions.”

“In other words, an open cut coal mine during this part of the Gloucester valley may be in the wrong place inside the wrong time,” Preston found. “These dire consequences must be avoided.”

At the end of January the Organisation of monetary Cooperation and Development made waves nationwide when it said the world needed to cut emissions more sharply to meet up with its Paris Climate accord target because the country remained heavily dependent upon coal-fired power.

But on Thursday a written report published earlier on Friday by Australian National University (ANU) researchers found the land is adopting alternative energy faster per capita versus rest of the world. Rapid recent improve wind and solar power has left it on track to meet Paris carbon emissions reductions targets ahead of 2030, it found.

The ruling was set in order to make developing new coal mines or expanding existing projects more challenging, said Shaw & Partners analyst Peter O’Connor.

“On first pass it doesn’t read well for ones industry,” he explained. “And it does indicate a regular and increased higher level of scrutiny about this industry, that’s only apt to become greater.”

Shares in Australian-listed coal miners Whitehaven and New Hope, which have coal projects over the drawing board, fell 3.5 along with a.2 percent respectively by 0446 GMT on Friday, according to lower Australian thermal coal prices.

Whitehaven declined to leave comments on whether it expects any influence on its own development plans. New Hope officials couldn’t immediately be reached.

Environmental campaigners welcomed the judge ruling.

The chief executive of Australia’s Climate Council, Amanda McKenzie, said Australia “must consistently transition off from fossil fuels and embrace sustainable energy with storage”.

“The science says so, and here the law does too,” she said in any statement.