By MarEx 2015-08-05 19:50:28
The Australian Federal Government’s approval of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland has been overturned in the Federal Court of Australia. The reason – two vulnerable species of reptile would be put at risk.
The project, which would have been one of the largest coal mines in the world, is anticipated produce up to 60 million tons of coal a year, for export primarily to India.
However, it has faced fierce environmental opposition because of a planned coal terminal at Abbot Point to the Great Barrier Reef.
Adani, which has struggled to get financial backing for the A$16.5 billion ($12 billion) project, has already won approval to build a new coal port terminal at Abbot Point to support exports from the mine.
Environmental legal center EDO NSW, representing the Mackay Conservation Group, challenged the approval for the mine given by the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
Sue Higginson, principal solicitor of EDO NSW said, “The decision of the Court to set aside the Carmichael mine’s federal approval was based on a failure by the Minister to have regard to conservation advices for two Federally-listed vulnerable species, the Yakka Skink and Ornamental Snake. This kind of error in the decision making process is legally fatal to the Minister’s decision.
“The conservation advices were approved by the Minister in April last year, and describe the threats to the survival of these threatened species, which are found only in Queensland. The law requires that the Minister consider these conservation advices so that he understands the impacts of the decision that he is making on matters of National Environmental Significance, in this case the threatened species.
“The case also alleged that the Minister failed to consider global greenhouse emissions from the burning of the coal, and Adani’s environmental history, however these matters are left unresolved before the Court.”
The mine is now without legal authority to commence construction or operate.
Higginson says it will be up to the Minister now to decide whether or not to approve the mine again, taking into account the conservation advices and any other information on the impacts of the project.
In a statement, the Environment Department said the decision to set aside the approval was a technicality and had been made with the consent of all parties involved in the case.
“Reconsidering the decision does not require revisiting the entire approval process,” the statement said.
Adani issued a statement saying it was regrettable that a technical legal error from the Federal Environment Department has exposed the approval to an adverse decision. “Adani will await the Minister and his department’s timely reconsideration of its approval application … Adani is confident the conditions imposed on the existing approval are robust and appropriate.”