The permit, covering 334 square kilometres, includes an area within coal authorisation 216 which was successfully renewed, but CCAG argued EL6505 was subject to another exploration licence.
NSW Land and Environment Court Chief Judge Brian Preston dismissed the case because the CCAG had not made any “grounds of challenge to the validity of either EL6505 or A216”
But Preston pointed out that the decision was not based on whether the permits should have been granted.
“In light of the publicity and interest in the proceedings, it should be noted that my decision only involves a resolution of the applicant’s claims that the authorities challenged were granted in breach of certain statutory requirements, and were thereby invalid, and does not involve any consideration of whether the minister ought to have granted the authorities,” he said.
“The court has no jurisdiction to determine, and the applicant’s proceedings do not raise, the merits of allowing exploration and mining on agricultural land in the Caroona district or elsewhere.”
A CCAG spokesperson told ABC the group had not ruled out challenging the decision in a higher court.
Longwall mining underneath the deep alluvial aquifers or floodplains in the region is already off the cards after the NSW government amended BHP’s licence last year.
Before this government move, the company had committed to not mining these areas.
CCAG is concerned longwall mining will damage the underground aquifers in the Liverpool Plains, affecting food and fibre production.