Hydrogeological issues have sat at the heart of series of legal cases in Queensland deciding whether to approve coal mines. Many involved mining in the Galilee Basin with the most significant determining the impact of the Adani Coal Mine (one of the largest proposed coal mines in the world) on the protected Doongmabula Springs. More recently, a long running case about the proposed New Acland Coal Mine in the Darling Downs has focused on impacts to local groundwater users. Both of these cases have involved extensive evidence from hydrogeologists about the conceptualisation and numerical modeling used.
Saul Holt QC was the lead Barrister for the objectors in both cases. He will discuss the intersection between hydrogeology and the legal process focusing on how well (or not) the legal system copes with the complexity of the science and offer some tentative views on the questions and challenges for hydrogeologists that the two cases raise.