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Appeal to Defeat Carmichael Coal Mine Dismissed

Australian Conservation Foundation Incorporated v Minister for the Environment [2016] FCA 1042

The Australian Conservation Foundation has failed in its bid for judicial review of the decision made by the Minister of the Environment regarding the approval in 2015 of the proposed mine by Adani Mining Pty Ltd. The mine would produce coal as an energy export. The request for judicial review of the ministerial decision was based on ss 82, 130, 391 and 527E of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) which relate to concepts of precaution and relevant impacts of a development. The applicant also claimed the Minister failed to consider the implications the approval would have on the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef (s 137).

The judicial review application was dismissed finding there would not be an unacceptable impact on the world heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef. Additionally, it was not found that a causal link exists between the second respondent’s mining of coal (mandated by the Minister’s approval) and a rise in global greenhouse gases [138]. This was justified by finding that there exists a range of factors which could contribute to a rise in GHG emissions including whether alternative suppliers will offer coal if the second respondent was denied the opportunity, whether the coal is used as an alternative to another energy source and the efficiency of coal plants. The judgement cited the Kyoto Protocol as the suitable mechanism to address global emissions regulation, finding the country which is responsible for combustion is responsible for emissions accounting and reductions.

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