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Environmental Defenders Office NSW


In February 2019, the NSW Land and Environment Court (LEC) handed down its decision in Gloucester Resources Limited v Minister for Planning [2019] NSWLEC 7 (the Rocky Hill case). In that decision, the LEC dismissed the proponent’s appeal of the decision to
refuse the proposed Rocky Hill Coal Project (Project) in the Gloucester Valley on the mid-north coast of NSW, in part because of the Project’s impact on climate change.

The Rocky Hill case also brought to light the limited attention given to GHG emissions during the assessment process for the Project (i.e. those assessments undertaken by the proponent, the NSW Government and the former Planning Assessment Commission). This demonstrates that the NSW planning system does not provide clear guidance to ensure that decisions about fossil fuel developments are consistent with a safe and stable climate system.

We believe that significant planning reforms are crucial in order to provide certainty and consistency for investors, proponents and the community. The reforms would also ensure that decision makers act consistently with the need to limit the increase in global average temperature
to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
This paper expands on those considerations and examines the relevance of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, the carbon budget and emission reduction technologies (such as offsets) in light of the Rocky Hill case for decisions being made today.