An earlier court decision over coal exploration in Burnt Caribou habitat has been upheld by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

In a decision released Wednesday, the Court of Appeal says the Provincial Government failed to adequately consult and reasonably accommodate the West Moberly First Nations before granting sampling and advanced exploration permits to First Coal.

Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations says the proposed facility sits in Burnt Pine caribou habitat and would threaten the already endangered species. The Chief believes the Province does not have a plan to help the caribou recover and First Coal’s proposed mine would destroy the already small population.

In September of 2009, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources approved permits to Vancouver-based First Coal Corporation for a facility near Chetwynd. By October, the West Moberly First Nations filed a complaint with the B.C. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the West Moberly First Nations in a decision released in March of 2010.

In the B.C. Court of Appeal decision, they also put a stay on the project. Willson says he is pleased with that decision.

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Willson also says he believes the decision sets a precedent.

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In a statement provided to Energeticcity.ca, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations say it had just received the decision and was reviewing it to assess the implications.

The West Moberly First Nation still hopes to work the Provincial Government to reach an agreement that will benefit both First Coal and the caribou herd.