THE Ashton South East open-cut coalmine near Camberwell has been dealt a show-stopping blow in the Land and Environment Court, with conditions placed on its approval almost certainly ensuring it can not proceed. In August residents lost an appeal against the expansion of the Chinese-controlled Yancoal mine, but Justice Nicola Pain set conditions on the approval. The Newcastle Herald has learnt one of those conditions requires Yancoal to acquire all the land in the lease in order to open.
But sixth-generation farmer Wendy Bowman, whose property is essential to the mine’s expansion, refuses to sell.
She said the condition brought a ‘‘huge sense of relief’’ and forecast the survival of Camberwell’s wildlife, farmers and community. A Yancoal spokesman said the final ruling had not yet been made and more insight on the fate of the project could be given after the official judgment.
But Ms Bowman, whose 190-hectare property near Glennies Creek contains 60per cent of the coal that would be extracted if the mine went ahead, said she could finally sleep after the conditions were announced on Friday.
‘‘On Friday night, I slept for six hours straight,’’ she said.
‘‘I’d been waking up every three or four hours ... it was that stressful.
‘‘It’s gone on for years.’’
After refusing Yancoal’s application in 2011, the NSW Planning Assessment Commission approved it a year later. The residents’ appeal was rejected in August, with Justice Pain linking a set of conditions to the approval.
The final ruling will not officially be made until early this week.
Ms Bowman said her land also featured environmentally valuable alluvial flood plains that should not be consumed for coal. She believed many animals turned to the land as a last resort, hemmed in by mines and the highway.
Lock the Gate NSW co-ordinator Georgina Woods welcomed the approval’s conditions.
‘‘It’s a relief that this mine now won’t go ahead thanks to the staunch commitment of Wendy Bowman in particular,’’ she said.
‘‘The Hunter needs strategic direction from the state government regarding where mining can and can’t go and how far we’re willing to let mines infringe on communities.
‘‘People have to fight it on a case-by-case basis which can be an arduous, stressful and painful process.
‘‘The state government needs to provide guidance and have the guts to limit the extent of mining ... and take some control of the industry.’’
Yancoal spokesman James Rickards said a final judgment was yet to be made.
‘‘It’s gone through a very rigorous review process for over two years,’’ he said. ‘‘It has dragged on for far longer than it should have in an approvals process that is dramatically flawed.’’