Give the Koreans a fair go at Bylong

HOGSBACK reckons the law can be an “ass”, but it is also a means of allowing cases to be heard on their merit – and not on media hype and protests.
Give the Koreans a fair go at Bylong Give the Koreans a fair go at Bylong Give the Koreans a fair go at Bylong Give the Koreans a fair go at Bylong Give the Koreans a fair go at Bylong

Korea happens to be one of Australia’s major trading partners and a buyer of Australian coal.

For that reason, Korean group KEPCO should not be derided by environmentalists for exercising its right to appeal against the 2020 NSW Land and Environment Court's ruling that upheld the 2019 Independent Planning Commission's decision to reject its Bylong Valley coal mine proposal.

The judgement the company is appealing upheld the IPC's 2019 ruling that KEPCO's planned coal mine posed too great a threat to the valley's farmland, water, and environment, and that its climate impacts were not in the public interest.

KEPCO first appealed the IPC's decision and then appealed the Land and Environment Court's ruling in December. 

After the Land and Environment Court rejected KEPCO's appeal, the Korean company has exercised its rights to appeal against this decision.

The company has written off the $700 million value of the project, but still wants its day in court, which it is perfectly entitled to.

This has not stopped environmental groups from throwing shade on the company and the project.

Bylong Valley Protection Alliance spokesman Phillip Kennedy said the community would like KEPCO to sell the properties it purchased back to farming families to make the valley productive again.

"KEPCO is predominantly owned by the South Korean government, so for it to pursue this coal mine while that government talks up its so-called green new deal is the height of hypocrisy," he said.

"This seems like a stark contradiction of how the South Korean government is portraying itself in the international media, and what KEPCO is proposing to do in Australia. The South Korean Government is clearly greenwashing."

Korea happens to be one of Australia's major trading partners and a buyer of Australian coal as well as agricultural and food products. 

It is already a significant investor in Australian coal projects and is seen one of the nation's friends, now that the Australian government has done such a good job of getting the Chinese government offside. 

Korea's investment into Australia has risen from $5 billion in 2006 to $31.4 billion in 2019.

While the Korean economy is keen on reducing its carbon emissions, there is a still a need for high quality Australian coal to keep the lights on in such a big economy.

So it is not surprising that KEPCO would go to such lengths in Australia's judicial system to ensure that all possible avenues to approval for its Bylong Valley project are pursued.