New challenge to Adani mine

09 Nov, 2015 12:42 PM
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6
 
Abbot Point in Queensland, a proposed terminal for coal produced at Adani's Carmichael mine.
The aim of the Australian Conservation Foundation...is to stop this mine
Abbot Point in Queensland, a proposed terminal for coal produced at Adani's Carmichael mine.

A NEW legal challenge to the proposed $16 billion Carmichael coal mine has been lodged in Australia's Federal Court.

The Australian Conservation Foundation is challenging Environment Minister Greg Hunt's decision to approve the Queensland mine in October.

The ACF, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office Queensland, is arguing that the minister failed to consider the mine's impact on climate change and the world heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

"The aim of the Australian Conservation Foundation...is to stop this mine," president Geoff Cousins said.

"We are not interested at all in delaying tactics or anything of that kind.

"This action is historic; it's the first case that has sought to test the Environment Minister's World Heritage obligations as they relate to the climate change impacts on the Reef caused by pollution from burning a mine's coal."

Mr Cousins said he was confident the ACF would win the case.

"We think through our positions very carefully when we bring something to a court. We bring it with force and intent," he said.

The Mackay Conservation Group was previously able to put a stop to the Adani mine because it successfully argued in court that the minister failed to properly consider the project's impact on snake and skink species.

However it was described as a "technical error" by the federal government, which was able to re-approve the mine subject to 36 strict conditions in October.

The terms included monitoring groundwater, protecting local fauna and funding research for conservation in the Galilee Basin.

Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham, who has repeatedly flagged changes to legislation which would set a time limit for legal challenges, said he would watch the case.

"I have said it many times - everyone deserves to have their day in court, but I would like to see it tidied up a little bit," he said.

"Everyone deserves their day in court, but not their four years in court."

The Newman government attempted to restrict the number of challenges to mining projects by removing third-party appeal rights, meaning only land holders could launch legal action.

Labor reinstated third-party appeals when it came to power, following the outcry at the restrictions.

Dr Lynham said he would consult widely before moving forward.

"I have been talking with the Attorney-General - we are a government that listens, I'll be taking everyone along with me on this journey, including miners, environmental groups, the community as a whole," he said.

"I'll be talking with everyone."

Lawyers expect a hearing to take place in the next six months, with at least another three months for a decision to be handed down.

The Environmental Defenders Office Queensland is representing the ACF in the case, which is receiving some of its funding through donations made to activist group GetUp.

Principal solicitor Sean Ryan said the case was seeking compliance with Australia's national and international laws.

"They're very serious considerations and not trivial," he said.

He said under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, the Minister was required to consider the direct and indirect consequences of actions associated with major developments.

"Our case is that the burning of coal overseas is an indirect consequence that the Minister must have regard to when considering the impacts on the Great Barrier Reef," he said.

He said Mr Hunt had given regard to overseas emissions in reapproving the project but had argued that it was difficult to quantify whether the Carmichael mine would actually cause additional global emissions as this depended on a range of variables.

"The problem with that is he hasn't had regard to the precautionary principle which says when there's uncertainty about environmental impacts but there is a risk of those impacts being serious and irreversible you should act cautiously," Mr Ryan said.

"The other thing the Minister failed to do is have regard to his international obligations to do all he can not to act inconsistently with the Great Barrier Reef world heritage values."

With Amy Remeikis and Lisa Cox

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READER COMMENTS

Gumtree
9/11/2015 5:28:21 PM

So now these fruitcakes are trying to hold the counties ecconomy to ransom on a non-existent problem. The entire human race could stop burning coal today and the only loser would be earths plant life.
Sir Les P
9/11/2015 8:33:29 PM

Don't worry about the legal stoush/they've got no money
Steve
10/11/2015 2:54:45 PM

You obviously have not checked your 'facts' have you Sir Les.
Wombat
11/11/2015 9:21:06 AM

So tell us your version of the facts Steve?
GottaBeKiddin
11/11/2015 10:59:47 AM

@Gumtree - Do you not think that the tourism industry, dependent as it is on visitors to see the splendour of the reef, is of value to the nation? If so, how do you reconcile an act that will destroy much of the beauty for many years with the short term benefit the mine and associated infrastructure will (maybe) bring? Indian PM Modi has already flagged a huge reduction in the need for coal for generation, and a huge investment in solar, wind, nuclear and hydro generation. The coal just is NOT needed!
Gumtree
11/11/2015 12:02:01 PM

@GBK you gottabekidding . The reef is in no danger from power generation from burning coal . You sound like you have been drinking to much of the man-made climate change kool-aid. Many things could upset the reef, a minute amount of atmospheric plant food ( CO2 ) will not.

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Sorry did i get it wrong..? Rankins Springs is still open..?!
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No doubt a few frosted Freddies out there who will wish they had taken a closer look at the AGC
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Matthew, I was wondering if you had followed up this story with the farmer after the whole