4nature wins the Marie Byles Award

Media Release  |   5 May 2024

We are grateful that our work protecting Sydney’s drinking water catchment from polluting coal mine discharge was recognised by our conservation peers.

The award was announced at the Nature Conservation Council of NSW 2017 Annual Conference at Redfern.

This award recognises the efforts of many people. We were well served by our solicitors Environment Defenders Office of NSW, barristers Nicholas Kelly and Richard Lancaster SC and numerous subject matter experts.

4nature’s action was actively supported by conservation groups Blue Mountains Conservation Society, Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Colong Foundation for Wilderness, Lithgow Environment Group and National Parks Association of NSW. 4nature was represented by its president, Andrew Cox.


MARIE BYLES AWARD – For the most inspiring community action initiative.


4nature is a volunteer-based conservation group established in 2010 to protect the natural environment in Australia and the South Pacific.

In 2015, the group turned its sights on Centennial Coal, one of the biggest polluters of Sydney’s drinking water supply.

In September that year, the NSW Government approved Centennial’s plans to expand its Springvale coal mine near Lithgow.

The approval included a green light to pump millions of litres of polluted water into the Coxs River, a major source for Warragamba Dam, the largest storage in Sydney’s drinking water supply. With the aid of EDO NSW, 4nature and a handful of other conservation groups challenged the approval in the Land and Environment Court, contending the government had failed to properly consider the effects of the project on the city’s drinking water.

(The case was supported by Blue Mountains Conservation Society, the Nature Conservation Council, the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, Lithgow Environment Group, and National Parks Association of NSW.)
In September 2016, the court ruled against 4nature, but undeterred, the group earlier this year (2017) appealed to the Supreme Court, where the original approval was ruled invalid.

Unfortunately, before the court could rule on what steps the company should take to comply with the law, the NSW government enacted new legislation to permit the company to continue to pollute, obviating the need for the court to consider the matter further.