A New Acland coal mine pit
A New Acland coal mine pit Stuart Cumming

Acland mine delay raises questions

AN ANTI coal train group has demanded Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt explain why he has delayed the approval decision of the New Acland Mine expansion until after the New South Wales election.

Environmental group Stop Brisbane Coal Trains spokesman John Gordon believes the minister's delay in approving the expansion stems from the backlash the Queensland LNP party received during the election over the project.

In particular, radio broadcaster Alan Jones' claim former LNP premier Campbell Newman had lied to him by previously promising there would be no Acland stage three.

Mr Gordon believes Mr Hunt's delay hinges on this.

"We reckon he's put off the hot potato issue of New Acland stage three until after the NSW election, expressly so as to avoid any confrontation with broadcaster Alan Jones during the NSW election," Mr Gordon said.

When asked if this was the case for the delay, a spokesman from Mr Hunt's office said: "There will not be a decision on this project until the Minister has had the opportunity to clarify the Queensland Government's future intentions for the project.

The spokesman said the minister had taken this position on a number of projects in Queensland.

He said the Federal Environment Department had written to Queensland officials seeking advice on how they wanted to proceed with the project.

Mr Hunt's decision whether to approve the stage three expansion has been extended to April 30.

Mr Gordon said 1500ha of agricultural land in the Darling Downs was under threat of being "pillaged" as part of the stage three "carve-up".