The Nature Conservation Council of NSW has welcomed the Land and Environment Court’s landmark decision requiring the Xstrata-owned Ulan coalmine to offset its greenhouse gas emissions as a condition of approval for expansion.
Approval has 'in principle' been granted by the Court to the Ulan mine expansion subject to a number of more stringent environmental conditions, including that it offsets greenhouse emissions related to the production and transport of its coal (scope 1 and 2 emissions).
“As Australia begins its transition towards a low-carbon economy, it’s fitting the Land and Environment Court has for the first time recognised that coalmines should take responsibility for the millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution they produce each year,” Nature Conservation Council of NSW CEO Pepe Clarke said today.
“The national precedent set by requiring Xstrata to offset some of the greenhouse pollution from its Ulan coalmine puts the fossil fuel industry firmly on notice. Coal mining activities have a significant impact on the health of our community and environment, and the era of ‘free’ pollution is over.
“The Ulan mine expansion will need to offset 23.5 million tonnes of greenhouse emissions each year, increasing NSW’s contribution to global emissions by 0.8% per year.
“But we mustn’t forget that Ulan is not the only coalmine project in the planning pipeline.
“As other operating coal mines seek to expand or modify operations, we call on all state governments to ensure strict offset arrangements become standard approval conditions so operators pay their fair share for mitigating the impact of their carbon pollution.
“Offsets for climate change impacts from coalmines are a significant reform, but it is only a first step towards our ambition of a clean energy economy for the future,” Mr Clarke said.
Legal action against the Ulan coalmine expansion was brought by the NSW Environmental Defender’s Office on behalf of NCC member group the Hunter Environment Lobby.
Read the full determination here: http://bit.ly/vRMpwI.
Front page photo: SMH Business Day