Published with permission
A five hour ‘Extraordinary Meeting’ of Eurobodalla Shire Council (ESC) was held on Tuesday to address requests from the community to help fund a legal appeal in the Land and Environment Court against Planning NSW decision to approve the charcoal plant in Mogo. ESC voted to place the decision to take action square in the laps of the community.
The people will decide if they want to commit funds for this purpose and the result will be made known on June 18. Fine details are yet to be worked, out but there will be extensive education period so that everyone is able to make an informed decision.
Ron Nye from the South Coast Regional Aboriginal Lands Council and Emmett O’Loughlin from the Charcoalition were present during the discussion.
Council retained Price Waterhouse Coopers – legal (PWC) to provide preliminary advice on the steps involved and the legal and specialist costs.
According to the Mayor, Peter Cairney, PWC believe that the charcoal plant is the most important environmental issue ever to come before the Land and Environment Court in Australia. They are confident that the community has a very good case on numerous points and have named an internationally renowned top barrister as their preferred choice. Mayor Cairney was quick to point out that PWC agreed good-humouredly that this case ‘would look good on their Curriculum Vitaes’.
PWC advised that multiple actions were preferable to a joint appeal but indicated that
coordination of all actions would produce the best outcome.
Other organizations will be approached to ascertain their views regarding possible action and joint funding including the NSW State Opposition, the NSW and South Coast Regional Aboriginal Lands Council, Cowra Shire Council, Boorawa Shire Council, Bathurst City Council, Lachlan Regional Transport Committee, The Wilderness Society, The Illawarra Regional Organization of Councils (IROC) and the NSW Greens.
Charcoalition has already decided to appeal and has indicated their willingness to cooperate with Council should the community decide to go to court.
Advice was also given as to the type of action to be lodged.
A class one ‘merit appeal is based mainly on environmental issues and usually incurs no court costs if the appeal is lost. It must be lodged within 28 days of the decision.
A class four judicial appeal is based mainly on judicial issues but costs could be incurred. It must be lodged within 90 days of the decision. The NSW government has the right to rule out this type of action under section 102 of the act.
Council decided to lodge a ‘merit appeal’. Price Waterhouse Coopers was instructed to do so immediately in case the community decides to allocate the funds. ESC can withdraw if necessary.
Charcoalition legal spokesperson, Emmett O’Loughlin was very pleased with Council’s decision and with PWC’s favourable opinion of the case. He said that there are several very good points to argue on both fronts. This group may decide to lodge both merit and judicial actions.