Coal battle: Judge had bad attitude, company says
IT HAS long divided opinion and fired up debate.
Now the battle over the New Acland Coal expansion at Oakey is in the Supreme Court's hands.
On Friday, Justice Helen Bowskill reserved her decision after hearing five days of argument in Brisbane Supreme Court.
New Acland wanted a review after Land Court judge Paul Smith last May recommended rejecting the Oakey Stage 3 expansion.
The Land Court considered topics including impacts the Oakey project would have on noise and groundwater.
But on Friday, New Acland claimed Mr Smith unreasonably criticised the company.
New Acland argued Mr Smith's personal feelings could have clouded his ability to objectively assess the case.
Earlier this week, a sarcastic exchange between Mr Smith and a New Acland barrister was played to the supreme court.
The flare-up followed WIN TV and Courier-Mail reports a year ago.
Mr Smith was concerned New Acland staff made comments to media which potentially brought the Land Court into disrepute.
The Land Court judge said these comments wrongly implied his personal holiday contributed to delays in the case.
Meanwhile, Oakey Coal Action Alliance was opposed to the expansion.
Its barrister Saul Holt QC this week said Mr Smith made "robust” remarks about several people, and was not picking on New Acland.
This week's hearing heard also several discussions about constitutional and environmental law.
The $900m expansion plan has for years sparked public and political debate over jobs, groundwater, and rehabilitation of former mining land.
Justice Bowskill said she was not sure yet when her judgment would be delivered but it would likely be in a matter of weeks. -NewsRegional