Photo: Mackay Conservation Group
BY SAT News Desk
Brisbane, Wednesday 5 August 2015: India’s Adani group has received a major setback with an Australian court ruling against the environmental clearance to it’s proposed Carmichael coal mine in Australia’s Galilee Basin. The controversial proposed Coal mine has been in the news with global investors pulling out of the project. Mr. Adani who is considered close to the current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accompanied him during his last visit to Australia.
The Mackay Conservation Group has won its case against Indian giant Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine, with the Federal Court ruling today that the approval by Environment Minister Greg Hunt is invalid on environmental grounds.
The mine would have been the biggest in Australian history and the Southern Hemisphere, and among the world’s largest.
The case, launched by Mackay Conservation Group in January 2015, challenged Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s approval of Carmichael on three grounds: that the Minister incorrectly assessed its climate impacts, ignored Adani’s poor environmental record, and failed to consider conservation advice from his own Department on the impact of the mine on two vulnerable species.
In a remarkable turn of events, Minister Hunt conceded to the Court that he failed in his duty to properly assess the Carmichael mine project in accordance with his obligations under Federal environmental legislation.
“‘It is astonishing and deeply troubling that it has taken a legal case by a small community group to bring the approval process under proper public scrutiny, and expose Minister Hunt’s dereliction of duty in fast-tracking the mine,” said Ellen Roberts, Coordinator of Mackay Conservation Group in a media release.
“The scale and impacts of this mine mean it would be the most damaging in Australian history. The proponent, Adani, has flouted the law and recklessly destroyed the environment in India. In Australia, Carmichael would be the driver for the huge coal port the company plans to build on the Great Barrier Reef.
“Given that Minister Hunt also has carriage of the port approval, what faith can the community now have that he will act appropriately to protect the Reef?”, he said.
Ellen Roberts further said, “Adani’s Carmichael mine would have ripped up precious habitat for threatened species and sucked billions of litres of precious ground water every year. The burning of the coal from the mine would have driven global warming at a time when science tells us coal reserves must be left in the ground.
Additionally, recent revelations have thrown the company’s economic and job claims into doubt.
“Adani’s job and royalties figures for the Carmichael project are fabrications,” said Ms. Roberts. “Global financial markets are backing away from new investments in coal and the Queensland Treasury has assessed the project as ‘unbankable.’”
‘There is simply no reason for this mine to go ahead. This Federal Court decision to throw out Minister Hunt’s approval is a victory for land and water, biodiversity, the global climate and also for common sense.”
‘We call now on Minister Hunt to see sense, honor his obligations, and take the opportunity to reject this disastrous project once and for all,’ he said.
Mackay Conservation Group was represented by the Environment Defenders Office of NSW.
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 Commonwealth-listed vulnerable species.
‘It is now up to the Minister to decide whether or not to approve the mine, taking into account the conservation advice and any other information on the impacts of the project.’
The case was funded by thousands of donations from the community via GetUp!
‘Without the donations of tens of thousands of Australians, there’s no way a tiny group like ours could have taken on the Federal Government or Adani. These donations show the depth of feeling in the community that Carmichael is a dud and must not go unchallenged. The people have been vindicated by the historic decision of the Federal Court.
“We and the broader community will now be closely watching Minister Hunt’s response to the decision of the Court,” said Ms. Roberts.
STATEMENT BY ADANI AUSTRALIA
Adani is committed to ensuring its mine, rail and port projects in Queensland are developed and operated in accordance with Commonwealth and State laws and regulations, including strict environmental conditions.
Adani acknowledges the Federal Environment Minister has consented to remake the July 2014 environmental approval decision for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail project after a conservation group’s judicial review application.
It is regrettable that a technical legal error from the Federal Environment Department has exposed the approval to an adverse decision.
It should be noted the approval did include appropriate conditions to manage the species protection of the yakka skink and ornamental snake.
However, we have been advised that, because certain documents were not presented by the Department in finalising the approval, it created a technical legal vulnerability that is better to address now.
Adani will await the Minister and his department’s timely reconsideration of its approval application under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.
Adani is confident the conditions imposed on the existing approval are robust and appropriate once the technicality is addressed.
Adani is in the fifth year of development and approvals and the need to finalise these approvals and timelines is critical so Adani and the community can realise the benefits associated with its investments to date including 10,000 jobs and $22 billion in taxes and royalties to be reinvested back into the community.
For the past six to 12 months, Adani has maintained a level of investment and project timelines based on anticipated approvals timelines and milestones.
As a result of changes to a range of approvals over that time it’s necessary our timelines and budget reflect those changes.
Wednesday 5 August 2015, www.adaniaustralia.com.au
- SAT News Service.