The New Acland Coal Mine is awaiting stage three approvals. Picture: Adam Head
The New Acland Coal Mine is awaiting stage three approvals. Picture: Adam Head

Thousands sign petition to save farming land from coal mine

MORE than twice the number of Queenslanders have signed a petition to save farmland on the Darling Downs from a coal mine expansion than those who signed in favour of the project.

The month-long petition - Save Acland Farmers and Jobs - had received a total of 3609 signatures by this morning, and is due to close tomorrow.

It was created in response to a petition by the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce and Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise in support of the controversial Acland Stage 3 project, which only garnered 1745 signatures.

Oakey Coal Action Alliance spokesman Paul King said the petition indicated Queenslanders understood the need to protect prime agricultural land and the jobs it supports from New Hope's expansion at New Acland.

"The farming land around Oakey is classed in the top 1.5 per cent in Queensland. It is madness that it should be destroyed for the sake of a temporary coal mine," he said.

"This coal mine expansion also poses an unacceptable threat to the underground water resources relied upon by farmers and their families in the Acland area."

It has been 12 years since New Hope first sought approvals for Stage 3, a process that has been tied up in a series of legal battles with the OCCA.

The company asked for a judicial review after the Land Court recommended Stage 3 not be approved in 2017.

That recommendation was overturned in 2018, and an appeal is ongoing.

The mine will have to cut 150 jobs and ramp down operations if it is unable to obtain the relevant Stage 3 approvals before September 1.