Government concedes it failed to consider public submissions and even lost some submissions.
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has won its Federal Court appeal against the assessment of Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme, with the Federal Government conceding the case, admitting it failed to consider public submissions and even lost some submissions.
“Once again this case outcome shows the Federal Government failed to properly scrutinise Adani’s proposed Galilee Basin coal mine,” said ACF’s Chief Executive, Kelly O’Shanassy.
“With this concession the government admitted it comprehensively failed to apply proper process when former Environment Minister Melissa Price assessed Adani’s plans to take up to 12.5 billion litres of water from the Suttor River in outback Queensland to service its mine.
“The government conceded it did not properly consider more than 2,000 public submissions from Australians with concerns about the mine and the water scheme.
“It also admitted to losing submissions.
“The government is fundamentally failing to properly apply national environment laws to its approvals for Adani’s mine and has been ignoring deep public concern about the mine’s environmental impact.
“This raises questions about the influence companies like Adani have over governments in Australia. When a company wields such power that it can cause a Minister to rush an approval process, cut corners and make significant errors, it is cause for serious concern.
“The water trigger is in Australian law because water is scarce on our dry continent. It should be applied to every relevant proposal, including Adani’s plan to take billions of litres of Queensland’s precious water.
“The proposal must now go to the new Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, and be re-opened for public comment.
“We expect the Minister to listen to Australians’ concerns and prioritise their needs over the profits of big polluting companies like Adani.
“ACF will continue to scrutinise all decisions around Adani’s proposal, including groundwater approvals that were rushed through on the eve of the election.”
The North Galilee Water Scheme (NGWS) is a critical infrastructure project to support Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine. The scheme proposes a 110-kilometre pipeline from the Suttor River, an ephemeral water source in central Queensland, to the mine site.
In deciding the assessment process for the water scheme under Australia’s national environment law, then Environment Minister Melissa Price elected not to apply the ‘water trigger’, a process designed to scrutinise the impact large coal and coal seam gas projects have on water.
In December 2018 ACF launched a case challenging the Minister’s failure to apply the water trigger to Adani’s pipeline proposal. In February ACF asked the court to include an additional ground in the case, relating to whether the Minister properly considered thousands of public submissions on her assessment of the water infrastructure proposal.
Today the Federal Government conceded the case.
ACF was represented in this case by the Environmental Defenders Office Queensland.