UPPER Hunter residents and land holders will launch their legal bid to stop Ashton Coal’s South East Open Cut coal mine at Camberwell in Sydney on Monday.
The Land and Environment Court will consider the Hunter Environment Lobby’s appeal against the mine’s approval.
Local residents are due to give evidence at the hearing when the court sits at Singleton on Tuesday and on Wednesday.
The Planning Assessment Commission approved the $83 million project, which is due to create an estimated 160 jobs and extract 16.5 million tonnes of coal over seven years, in October 2012.
That decision overturned a December 2011 ruling to reject the mine because of the detrimental impact that it would have on Glennies Creek, a Hunter River tributary.
Dust and noise were also cited as grounds for refusal in the original decision.
Camberwell farmer Wendy Bowman said priceless agricultural land and water systems would be lost if the project went ahead.
‘‘We find ourselves locked in a battle to save our productive agricultural land and our water, the lifeblood of our community, with the odds stacked against us,’’ she said.
‘‘The government authority designated to protect water and the state’s planning commission are siding with a foreign-owned mining giant that will ruin the land and water and take profits offshore.’’
An Ashton Coal spokesman said yesterday that the company had undertaken an exhaustive environmental assessment.
‘‘This has led to the incorporation of robust environmental protection measures for the project,’’ he said.
‘‘The credentials of the project are strong and Ashton Coal is committed to the sound implementation of the project that would in turn provide benefit to the local community.’’
The appeal will be the second major appeal against an open-cut in the Hunter Valley this year.
The Land and Environment Court blocked the expansion of Rio Tinto’s Mr Thorley-Warkworth mine in April on the grounds that it posed an unacceptable environmental and social risk.
The state government is seeking to amend the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) for mining projects. The proposed amendments would required a project’s economic benefits to be given top priority in the assessment process.
John Krey and Diedre Olofsson at Camberwell with Integra and Rix’s Creek mines in the background.
Camberwell resident Wendy Bowman