Adani’s Abbot Point Coal Terminal faces residents legal challenge

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Photo: ABC News 24

By SAT News Desk

Melbourne, 24 June:
In Australia today, Queensland community group, Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping, which aims to protect the Great Barrier Reef from damage, is asking the QLD Supreme Court to scrutinise whether the QLD Department of Environment properly considered legislative tests when granting authority for Adani’s controversial Abbot Point Terminal 0 expansion to go ahead.

The first directions hearing is taking place in the Queensland Supreme Court.

Local grandmother, former tourism worker and spokesperson for Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping, Sandra Williams said, “Australia’s precious Great Barrier Reef is already in poor health, and Indian coal company Adani’s controversial port project, which will cause irreparable damage, has raised significant concern in our community.

“We believe the approval of Adani’s port proposal was unlawful and, long with many thousands of Australians, we feel that it is wrong to damage the glorious Great Barrier Reef to build a port for an unviable foreign owned coal mine that nobody wants or needs.

“Residents in our group have never taken legal action before, but we were forced to because of our worry that the approval of the port expansion, which will require damaging dredging and see hundreds of extra ships through the Reef each year, was not lawful.

“There is a question mark over whether the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection properly assessed the project, as required by law, before it gave this billion dollar proposal the green light.

“It is critically important that the decision, which has such grave implications for the Great Barrier Reef, is properly scrutinised.

“Both state and federal governments in Australia are allowing fossil fuel companies to expand the port, for a coal project that will decimate the Reef and its glorious corals, and threaten marine life, including endangered snubfin dolphins, turtles and giant manta rays.

“We should not have to take this project to court, but an independent review will help ensure proper scrutiny of the decision-making process.

“Our community group believes the law should be followed to the letter when permitting a project that will ship through our vulnerable Reef millions of tonnes of coal which, once burnt, will fuel climate change and cause continued coral bleaching events,,” Ms Williams said.

The Port of Abbot Point is located in north east Australia, and its boundaries extend into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

In 2011 Indian company Adani Australia paid the Queensland government $1.8 billion for a 99-year lease of the Terminal 1 coal export facility at Abbot Point, and now the company is planning to develop a new T0 terminal beside the existing facility, to increase the Port’s coal export capacity by up to 70 Mt per annum.

Adani plans to use the new terminal to export coal from its proposed Carmichael mega-mine and other new mines in Australia’s Galilee Basin, 400kms inland.

The expansion of T0 will involve the onshore construction of rail in-loading facilities, coal handling and a doubling of the stockpile area. The coal stockpiles will be located less than 50m from important Aboriginal heritage sites, and coal dust will drift onto the wetlands and marine waters.

The expansion will involve dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of seabed at Abbot Point, and dumping it on port land right next to the delicate Caley Valley wetlands.

Federal government approval of the port expansion was granted in December 2013, and Queensland state government approval in April 2016.

Adani’s operations in Australia are currently subject to three court challenges by environment groups, two by Indigenous groups and Adani itself it involved in at least nine commercial litigation cases.

- SAT News Service.

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