South Australian Court Finds No Grounds for Water Licence

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South Australian Court Finds No Grounds for Water Licence

  • Metjac Holdings P/L v Minister For Sustainability, Environment & Conservation [2017] SAERDC 24 (22 June 2017)

The appellant, Metjac, sought a water licence and allocation regarding an area known as Allotment 50. The 22 880 kl of annual water allocated by the Minister for the Department of the Environment, Water and Natural Resources was said to be insufficient by the appellant. Metjac appealed the decision.

The Minister counterclaimed the appeal stating it was issued in error and no licence should have been issued pursuant to Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (SA). The licence at issue was granted by the Minister on 27 April 2016. In responding to Metjac appeal, the Minister stated the licence and water allocation had been granted in error because Metjac did not hold title over the land to which the licence relates.

The Court began their reasons by investigating the purpose of the Act which dictates decision-making pursuant to ecological considerations. The objects inform the interpretation of s 146 regarding water licence. The Court found that the purpose of the water licence was to carry on existing agricultural businesses and potential developments. A water allocation may be granted concurrently to licence and both are considered personal property and are transferable. However, the court found that Metjac had divested itself of ownership upon the sale of the property in 2010. Any subsequent claim to the water, even if the licence was sold in error by Metjac as was claimed, is not valid and thus there is no claim to a water licence.

 

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