Residents slapped with $40k costs order

A group of Wollongong residents challenging the legality of Gujarat NRE’s mining operations at Russell Vale says a recent court decision ordering the group to put up $40,000 before the case proceeds could halt its action.

Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining (IRRM) claims Gujarat commenced mining at its No 4 longwall in April 2012, before it had received proper planning approval.

Gujarat denies the claim, saying it had an approved subsidence management plan in place that covered the operations.

IRRM launched action in the Land and Environment Court earlier this year in an attempt to have Gujarat cease mining in the No 4 longwall.

However Gujarat lodged a motion seeking to have IRRM provide $75,000 as ‘‘security for costs’’, in case the group loses the challenge and is ordered to pay the legal costs Gujarat incurred to fight the court case.

IRRM spokeswoman Kaye Osborn said the Land and Environment Court judge confirmed the challenge was in the public interest, but still ordered the group to put up a reduced sum of $40,000 before the case proceeded to a hearing.

Ms Osborn described the judge’s decision as ‘‘disappointing’’ saying she hoped the costs order would not prevent the case from being heard.

“This is a very disappointing outcome for people who care about the impact of this expanding mine on the environment and the surrounding residential suburbs,’’ she said.

‘‘It would be a great shame if this matter never sees the light of day in court due to Gujarat’s security for costs order.’’

Ms Osborn said the group was considering its options on whether to appeal the decision, try come up with the money, or drop the case altogether.

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