Australia might not sign Kyoto but the NSW Land and Environment court has turned dark green with a bout of extra-territoriality that would be scary if it wasn’t just a passing bit of jurisprudence that you’d be more likely to see on an episode of Boston Legal.

Justice Nicola Pain ruled that the NSW director-general of planning should not have accepted the environmental assessment for a new Hunter Valley coal mine because the assessment did not examine the impact of burning coal exported by the mine.

As the Smage reports, the case is a big propaganda win for a young Newcastle greenie, Peter Gray. Alan Shaw would be pleased. But in reality, it just means Centennial Coal will have to go through the process of exhibiting the environmental assessment again and this time including some obvious statements about what happens when coal is burned anywhere on earth and not just in NSW. It won’t stop the Anvil Mine happening.

The downside is that, if the judgement is allowed to stand, every new industry development could be forced into some sort of global environmental impact study. You want to build factory to make cars? What’s the greenhouse impact of those cars burning petrol?

Federal environment minister Ian Campbell reckons the court’s decision is both dangerous and disastrous while Green Senator Christine Milne is looking “to enshrine the ruling in law this week”. Meanwhile the fairies at the bottom of the garden are drinking tea from empty cups.

Peter Fray

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