Oakey business owners Carla Tierney (left) and her mother Tracey Tierney were shocked at the decision to decline New Acland Mine an environmental authority.
Oakey business owners Carla Tierney (left) and her mother Tracey Tierney were shocked at the decision to decline New Acland Mine an environmental authority. Anton Rose

Coal mine battle moves on from Darryl Kerrigan

WHO'S who when making rules about big mines is something a judge might ponder after a complex hearing into a coal firm's embattled $900m expansion plan.

New Acland Coal wants a review after Land Court Member Paul Smith last May recommended rejecting its Oakey Stage 3 expansion.

NAC took its case to Brisbane Supreme Court.

Earlier this week the hearing featured popular culture references, including to comedy classic The Castle.

On Thursday discussion largely focused on constitutional law and the powers of land court members.

On one side is New Acland Coal.

On the other, Oakey Coal Action Alliance, and the Department of Environment and Science - formerly the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

The department is involved because it is the "statutory party” or decision-maker in this case.

On Thursday, OCAA's barrister Saul Holt QC addressed what he called an inaccurate complaint from New Acland.

"NAC says the member was wrong to consider intergenerational equity separately from the economic analysis. If that's what the member had done [NAC] might have been correct.”

In his decision, Mr Smith cited concerns about groundwater modelling at the Darling Downs expansion site.

Mr Smith also said the proposal would have breached principles of intergenerational equity.

That concept relates to stewardship, or fairness between generations.

Later on Thursday, the department discussed definitions of an ecosystem.

"Underground water is a natural and physical resource,” its barrister Ken Barlow QC said. "It is part of the ecosystem.”

Earlier this week, NAC's concerns included Mr Smith referring in his judgment to comedy movie The Castle, in which Darryl Kerrigan was the protagonist.

The film reference was made about one of Acland's last residents, Glen Beutel, who refused to sell properties to NAC.

"In many ways the truth of Mr Beutel's position is far in excess of the fiction of The Castle,” Mr Smith said.

The hearing before Justice Helen Bowskill is expected to finish on Friday. -NewsRegional


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