The second respondent, Adani Pty Ltd, proposes to build a large coal mine in the state of Queensland. Prior to construction of the mine approvals must be granted under state and federal environmental laws. Both these approvals have been obtained. The Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) requires consideration the impact that the proposed development will have on the environment. Specifically, as a relevant consideration. Failure to do so could void the decision. This judicial review was concerned with the failure of the Minister to consider the effects or likely effects on the Great Barrier Reef in connection with the proposal when he granted federal approval to the development.
As a highly sensitive ecosystem, coral reefs are vulnerable to changes in the environment. The coal that will be the product from the development will release greenhouse gases that are known to cause atmospheric and oceanic warming. Increasing water temperatures, rising sea levels and increased cyclone activity in the region are expected consequences of increased atmospheric greenhouse gases and thus the plaintiff suggests that the Minister should have considered the damage to the reef when making his decision for approval.
The Court rejected the plaintiff’s argument and dismissed the case in full. The Australian Conservation Foundation has indicated an appeal is being considered. The Federal Court also dismissed a native title claim against the mine which claimed that the mining leases were within the boundary of an area that the Wangan and Jagalingou People sought a determination as to the existence of native title. The Court also required that the appellant pay the defendants’ costs. The Queensland Court of Appeal also dismissed the appeal for judicial review regarding the State Government’s approval over the mine.
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