The continuing battle to prevent mining exploration in the Margaret River region has reached an uncertain stalemate, with little sign that a quick resolution will be forthcoming.
The Margaret River coastline. Image: Cullen Wines
An appeal was started this year by Save our Southwest, a coalition formed by the Margaret River agricultural community, which is seeking an injunction to stop the Perth-based company Western Coal mining in the area.
Western Coal failed to attend an administrative court hearing scheduled for 29 September.
‘This demonstrates the overseas developers have no connection or empathy to the place and couldn’t give a damn about anything but their money’, Vanya Cullen of Cullen Wines told Decanter.com.
However, this does not automatically mean victory for the anti-mining coalition.
A report will now be sent to the Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum, which will decide to either grant or refuse the application.
It is understood that any precedents, such as the recent Environmental Protection Agency’s refusal to grant Vasse Coal an exploration licence, are not taken into account.
‘We now have to recruit the services of technical people – no mention of the community expense in so doing – and start again as if Vasse Coal, nor its lack of social licence, nor its EPA rejection, doesn’t exist’, said Brent Watson, local resident and opponent of Western Coal’s plans.
The next court session is now scheduled for 1 March 2012.
Written by James Lawrence