A WOMAN associated with legal challenges by the public against some of the controversial projects in NSW, Kirsty Ruddock, has left the NSW Environmental Defender's Office.
Formerly the organisation's principal solicitor, Ms Ruddock has taken a position with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Another staffer, senior solicitor Natasha Hammond-Deakin, has also left the organisation to pursue a career as a barrister.
More recently, the two have worked on a successful challenge against Coal & Allied's approval to extend its Mount Thorley-Warkworth mine.
Ms Ruddock has represented several Hunter communities against big resource companies, including residents of Fullerton Cove against Dart Energy's coal seam gas developments, Camberwell residents against Integra, and Gloucester residents against AGL's big Gloucester coal seam gas project.
The Environmental Defender's Office executive director, Jeff Smith, said the pair's departure was not connected with recent reports of funding shortages for public interest advocacy groups.
"We have been under the pump for the last 12 months but the departure of Kirsty and Natasha is not because of the funding," Mr Smith said.
From July 1 the organisation would receive $1.2 million for its operations, down from $1.6 million the previous year, he said.
The organisation was seeking a replacement for Ms Ruddock, and Mr Smith said he was confident its operations would continue.