Tanya Plant and Aileen Harrison celebrate a decision last month denying New Acland an environmental authority. But NAC has gone back to court, asking a judge to review last year's Land Court ruling on the same expansion plan.
Tanya Plant and Aileen Harrison celebrate a decision last month denying New Acland an environmental authority. But NAC has gone back to court, asking a judge to review last year's Land Court ruling on the same expansion plan. Anton Rose

'Conspiracy theory' comment cited as coal tussle reignited

A JUDGE'S "robust” remarks in rejecting a giant coal mine expansion show he was not simply picking on the mining company.

That is what a barrister in the latest battle over the New Acland Coal proposal has told a court, after NAC complained about the language used in last year's landmark judgment.

New Acland wants Brisbane Supreme Court to review a Land Court decision to reject its planned $900 million Oakey Stage 3 expansion.

But Oakey Coal Action Alliance was opposed to the expansion.

On Wednesday, its barrister Saul Holt QC said Land Court member Paul Smith used "robust language” in his judgment not just about the mining firm.

Mr Holt pointed to Mr Smith describing one objector last year as having a "conspiracy theory” and "big brother” mentality.

Elsewhere in the judgment, Mr Smith described an objector as making "outrageous comments”.

"There's a real caution...that has to be exercised in isolating the treatment of NAC from the treatment of other objectors and other witnesses,” Mr Holt said.

Mr Smith wrote last year: "I am sure that many of those who have appeared before me throughout this lengthy hearing could point to areas from the transcript where I have been critical of a particular party.”

His judgment was 450 pages long.

On Monday, NAC also raised concerns about Mr Smith referring in his judgment to The Castle.

The film reference was made about one of Acland's last residents, Glen Beutel, who refused to sell properties to NAC.

Mr Beutel was portrayed as an underdog, like movie character Darryl Kerrigan was.

"In many ways the truth of Mr Beutel's positon is far in excess of the fiction of The Castle,” Mr Smith wrote in his judgment.

The trial before Justice Helen Bowskill is expected to last all week. -NewsRegional


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