Emma-Kate Currie.
Emma-Kate Currie.

Fight taken to Colton coal mine

A GROUP of Aldershot residents and a lobby group have vowed to fight the Colton coal mine through the courts, if an environmental approval is granted.

Northern Energy Corporation (NEC) expected a decision on its environmental management plan on Friday last week, but the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) has sought more information about biodiversity offsets before delivering its response.

Wide Bay Burnett Environment Council (WBBEC) spokeswoman Emma-Kate Currie said the group would continue its fight against the coking coal mine because of its ecologically-sensitive location.

During the previous public feedback period, which ended in November last year, the WBECC raised concerns the mine would not comply with biodiversity protection regulations, which had been put in place in October.

"So in one sense, it is a positive that DERM has looked at the biodiversity offsets, because NEC will now have to develop a formal offset strategy," Ms Currie said.

However, she said the group still believed the site was inappropriate for a mine.

"If a draft environmental authority is given, we will be writing a formal rejection of it," she said.

The spokesman of Aldershot and District Against Mining, Brian Linforth, said the residents group would also join in a court battle against the mine.

"We will take it to land court, we've already got a number of petitioners," Mr Linforth said.

"It is a gazetted wildlife corridor with vulnerable frog species."

He said the group was prepared to subpoena DERM for information to aid their case, if the environmental authority was approved.

But while the two groups are preparing to gear up their fight, not everyone is happy about the delay.

Fraser Coast Regional councillor Gerard O'Connell has urged the environment department and Northern Energy Corporation to work together and get the mine going as soon as possible.

He said DERM had ample time to make its decision, and should have asked for more information sooner, instead of delaying the process further.

"In a time when this region needs business confidence, the delay is shattering us," Cr O'Connell said.

"The process has already been extended once. I don't think they've been rushed."