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Rocky Hill: A Legal Breakthrough in the Consideration of Climate Change and Social Impacts of Coal Mines

Elena Aydos, Belinda Charlton, Gabrielle Cornett, Kelsey Gray, Nita Scott


A Superior Court in the Australian state of New South Wales refused consent to a coal mine because of its future contribution to global climate change. Rocky Hill illustrates a watershed moment in the consideration of climate change and social impacts in Australia, representing a significant step beyond what the Courts had previously ruled in relation to those matters. The significance of the decision extends beyond its progressive approach to the recognition of the causal link between coal mining and the impacts of global climate change. The case recognises that lay people still play a part in the democracy of planning decisions, giving voice to minority groups such as Aboriginal people and their views on their living culture and heritage.

Elena Aydos, Senior Lecturer at the Newcastle Law School, University of Newcastle, Australia; Belinda Charlton, Principal Solicitor, Belinda Charlton Lawyers, Master of Environmental Law, PhD candidate at the University of Newcastle; Gabrielle Cornett, Bachelor of International Studies, Juris Doctor, Master of Laws candidate at the University of Newcastle; Kelsey Gray, Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/Bachelor of Science (Biology) candidate at the University of Newcastle; Nita Scott, Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning, Master of Natural Resources, Master of Environmental Law candidate at the University of Newcastle.


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