AN octogenarian farmer who stared down a mining giant has won the world’s pre-eminent award for grassroots conservation.
Hunter Valley producer Wendy Bowman, 83, was today named the Goldman Environmental Prize winner, only the fourth Australian winner in the award’s history, and the first since 2003.
In December 2014, Mrs Bowman “Rosedale”, Camberwell, won a landmark legal victory against the development of a 315 hectare coal mine, owned by Chinese Yancoal, that would have consumed her farm and the surrounding landscape.
The project was approved by the NSW Department of Planning, however a condition of mine approval meant Yancoal needed to acquire her 182ha property – which would have formed part of the proposed mine pit – before any development could take place.
Because Mrs Bowman refused to sell her 182ha property, the mine could not proceed and 16.5 million tonnes of coal stayed in the ground.
It was the first time an Australian court imposed such a condition.
Yancoal lost its appeal in the NSW Supreme Court in November 2015.
Mrs Bowman remains at the forefront of community efforts to protect the Valley’s agricultural land and water.
The Goldman Environmental Prize was created in 1989 by civic leaders and philanthropists Richard N. Goldman and his wife, Rhoda H. Goldman.
Winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organisations and individuals.
Mrs Bowman will nor participate in a 10-day tour of San Francisco and Washington DC, for a ceremony and presentation, as well as news conferences, media briefings, and meetings with political, public policy, and environmental leaders.