NSW residents win coal mine court fight

A group of NSW landowners are celebrating after a court win that effectively blocks a South Korean-owed coal company from accessing their land.

A group of NSW property owners are celebrating after what's being declared a landmark win in a six-year battle to ward off coal mining in their region.

The Chief Judge of NSW's Land and Environment Court has upheld an appeal by five Southern Highlands families against a Commissioner of Mining decision they say allowed a coal company prospecting rights over their properties.

The families' supporters cheered and waved "Coal Free" signs outside the Sydney building that houses NSW's Land and Environment Court on Tuesday after the decision was handed down.

Relieved property owner Peter Martin said it means a coal mine would have great trouble getting up and running in the region.

"This is significant for all landowners in NSW," he told reporters.

"We've had miners run roughshod over landholders' rights for years, supported by the government ... and it's got to stop."

Mr Martin said the South Korean-owned Hume Coal had wanted to drill holes for exploration in his lucerne paddocks, using his driveway for access.

The company had sought access to others' properties including roads and tracks, paddocks and even an equestrian course, he said.

The families launched legal action to block Hume Coal's access but the Commissioner for Mining dismissed their case last November.

On Tuesday, Land and Environment Court Chief Judge Justice Brian Preston set aside that decision, saying the Commissioner had "erred on questions of law in numerous ways".

He ordered the case be remitted, and determined by the Commissioner "in accordance with the decision of this court".

He also ordered Hume Coal pay the families' legal costs of their appeal.

In a statement, Hume Coal said it was disappointed by the decision and much time and design had been invested into producing a drilling program that had "little to no" impact on current land use.

Hume Coal project director Greig Duncan warned the ruling had severe ramifications for mining and exploration in NSW, and not just in the coal industry.

"It is now up to the NSW state government to review the land access laws and regulations, so that the exploration industry can continue to progress opportunities, employment and the economy for the people of New South Wales," Mr Duncan said.

Source AAP

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