Court Slaps Down Xstrata's Costs Claim

Monday, 3rd of December 2012
For Immediate Release

The Land Court today rejected Xstrata's legal costs application against Friends of the Earth Brisbane, over their objection to the Wandoan mega coal mine.

Friends of the Earth spokesperson Dr Bradley Smith says their organisation is relieved by the decision. The costs application was expected to be for over half a million dollars, far above the resources of Friends of the Earth Brisbane, which is a small volunteer-run environment group.

“With this costs application, Xstrata were trying to silence us for speaking up for the environment,” said Dr Smith, “this decision means that our organisation can now go on doing our important work of protecting the environment.”

Although Friends of the Earth does not have to pay legal costs, the township of Wandoan is still suffering the social costs of the project with declining enrolments in the school and closure of local shops.

“The Queensland Government decision to grant Xstrata the option to development the mega mine has ground the rural township down to the bone”, says Dr Smith.

“Xstrata have all but moved out of Wandoan, the office is closed and the new Glencore Xstrata company show no sign of developing the mine.”

“The message is load and clear, rural towns need to be prepared and stand together strong. The mining companies will only be there in the short term and after they've made a quick buck the farms and township will be gone.

The Land Court President Carmel MacDonald said in her judgement that “FoE adopted a public interest stance in bringing the objections...the group had no personal or financial interest in the outcome and their only interest was in the protection of the environment and the community generally.”

“Although we didn't win the case against the mine, this costs decision shows that our climate change concerns were valid concerns and raised issues worthy of the court's attention,” said Dr Smith.

This brings to an end Friends of the Earth's year-long legal battle against Xstrata's planned coal mine, although landholders are still in court over compensation arrangements for the loss of their livelihoods.

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Contact Shani Tager, media relations: 0432 050 809, shani.tager@foe.org.au

Dr Bradley Smith, media spokesperson: 0413 280 006, bradley.smith@foe.org.au