A Whitehaven Coal mining extension project has been advised of commencement of judicial review proceedings to invalidate the State Significant Development Consent for the project, under climate change related grounds. 

Whitehaven Coal’s Narrabri Stage 3 Extension Project, which is a project to extend the underground coal mine, was recently granted a State Significant Development Consent by the New South Wales Independent Planning Commission (IPC) in April 2022. The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), a pro bono law firm, is representing the Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action group who submitted the judicial review claim on climate change grounds. 

Whitehaven Coal said it intends to “vigorously defend the proceedings”. 

Whitehaven Coal shared some steps of the IPC decision, and what will be further defended in the review process:

The IPC, in approving the Stage 3 Extension Project, conducted a comprehensive assessment and evaluation process which included consideration of 1,775 submissions from relevant stakeholders. Roughly one-third of these submissions addressed the issue of climate change.

The IPC panel comprised three experienced commissioners, being Professor O’Kane, Professor Fell and Professor Barlow. The panel was assisted at the public hearing and in its assessment process by an experienced senior counsel. 

In its Statement of Reasons for Decision, the IPC said it had considered all emissions associated with the project (including Scope 3 emissions) in its assessment and determination. 

The IPC’s reasons for finding that the Stage 3 Extension Project should be approved subject to stringent conditions of consent included that “GHG emissions for the project have been adequately estimated and are permissible in context of the current climate change policy framework”.

Whitehaven Coal said high-quality thermal coal has an important role to play in providing energy security during the decarbonisation transition.

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