Last Updated: May 26, 2016

Court Cases

Current Cases
Adani Carmichael Supreme Court challenge

Land Services of Coast and Country v Department of Environment and Heritage Protection & Adani [EPML01470513]

EDO Qld is representing Land Services of Coast and Country in an application in the Queensland Supreme Court for judicial review of the Queensland Environment Department’s decision to grant the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine an Environmental Authority (EA). Our case is that an examination of the Department’s reasons for making the decision reveals the Department failed to comply with s 5 of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld).

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Alpha Coal Mine Court of Appeal Challenge

Coast and Country Association of Queensland v Smith & Anor [CA9986/15]

EDO Qld is representing Coast and Country, who has appealed to the Queensland Court of Appeal, the highest Court in Queensland, in respect of the findings of the Supreme Court in relation to climate change concerning the Alpha Coal Mine. The case is currently progressing through court ordered timetable leading to hearing on 7 June 2016.

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Carmichael coal mine Federal Court challenge

Australian Conservation Foundation v Minister for the Environment [QUD1017/2015]

EDO Qld is representing the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) in their objection to the federal re-approval of the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. On behalf of ACF, EDO Qld is seeking an independent judicial review by the Federal Court of the legality of Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s re-approval of the project. This case is about whether the minister correctly applied the law when considering the impacts of the project on the Great Barrier Reef.

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New Acland Coal Mine Stage 3 Land Court challenge

New Acland Coal Pty Ltd v Ashman & others [EPA495-15, MRA496-15 & MRA497-15]

EDO Qld is representing Oakey Coal Action Alliance Inc (OCAA) in objections to the approval of an environmental authority and two mining lease applications for the proposed Stage 3 expansion of the New Acland Coal Mine, west of Toowoomba. OCAA is a long-standing community organisation, with members who are farmers and other landholders near to the mine.

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KEVIN’S CORNER COAL MINE LAND COURT CHALLENGE

Hancock Galilee Pty Ltd v Bruce Bede Currie and others [MRA713-13 & EPA714-13]

EDO Qld is representing Coast and Country Association of Queensland Inc (CCAQ) in their objection against the approval of the Mining Lease (ML) and Environmental Authority (EA) for Hancock Galilee Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the GVK Group. Adjacent to the Alpha coal mine, the Kevin’s Corner mine involves an open-cut and underground coal mine. The mine is situated in the Galilee Basin in the catchment of the Burdekin River which flows into wetlands and the Great Barrier Reef. The objections of CCAQ against the recommendation to approve the mine are centred upon the issues of impacts to groundwater, economics and the public interest.

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Earlier Cases:
Carmichael Coal Mine Land Court challenge

Adani Mining Pty Ltd v Land Services of Coast and Country Inc & Ors [2015] QLC 48

EDO Qld represented Land Services of Coast and Country in the Land Court in their objection to the Carmichael Coal Mine. The proposed Adani Carmichael underground and open-cut mine, railway and port project includes building Australia’s largest thermal coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland. It will be linked by a purpose built 388km rail line to a new terminal at Abbot Point Port adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. The mine will impact on the threatened ecological community at Doongmabulla Springs and the million year old groundwater resources that are the life blood of surrounding farmers. It will also significantly impact threatened species including one of only two nationally important populations of the endangered Black-throated Finch. The Land Court recommendation was delivered on 15 December 2015.

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GREAT BARRIER REEF DREDGING CASE

Mackay Conservation Group v Minister for the Environment [QUD118/2014]

EDO Qld acted for Mackay Conservation Group (MCG) in their challenge to Minister Hunt’s approval of (as well as conditions placed on) the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation’s (NQBP’s) application to undertake a program of dredging and dumping near Abbot Point to facilitate development of three new proposed port terminals: Terminal 0, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. MCG claimed there were a number of alleged errors of law in Minister Hunt’s EPBC Act approval. Of particular importance to the case were the requirements under s137 of the EPBC Act that the Minister’s decision cannot be inconsistent with the World Heritage Convention or the Australian World Heritage Management Principles. In June 2015, changes to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations commenced to ban capital dredge spoil dumping in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which meant that NQBP was unlikely to act on the approval. As a result, in November 2015 the case was dismissed with the consent of the parties.

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Alpha coal judicial review

Coast and Country Association of Queensland Inc v Smith & Anor; Coast and Country Association of Queensland Inc v Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection & Ors [2015] QSC 260

EDO Qld represented Coast and Country Association of Queensland Inc (CCAQ) who sought judicial review in the Queensland Supreme Court of the 8 April 2014 Land Court decision on the massive Alpha coal mine in central Queensland. The Land Court made recommendations to the Queensland government to either refuse the approvals for the project or approve the project with additional groundwater conditions. The judicial review of the Land Court decision was based on the grounds that the law does not allow the Land Court to recommend both refusal and approval with conditions and the law requires the indirect environmental harm, in the form of climate change impacts from the transport and use of the coal, to be considered. On Friday, 4 September 2015, the Supreme Court delivered its judgement.

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GREAT BARRIER REEF SEA DUMPING CASE

North Queensland Conservation Council v Minister for the Environment & Ors [AAT2014/1043]

EDO Qld acted for North Queensland Conservation Council in an Administrative Appeals Tribunal challenge of the decision of Minister Hunt (responsible for the decision of his delegate at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) to grant a permit for the dumping of up to 3 million cubic meters of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area. The dumping permit had been requested by NQBP as part of its proposal to make the port of Abbot Point one of the biggest coal export facilities in the world. NQCC’s application was filed in February 2014, and asserted that the decision to grant the permit was not correct given the requirements of the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981. In particular, NQCC contended the decision is inconsistent with the London Protocol, an international agreement which includes the obligation to prevent, reduce and where practicable eliminate pollution caused by sea dumping.  In June 2015, changes to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations commenced to ban capital dredge spoil dumping in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the dumping permit became redundant. The parties then agreed to AAT orders to cancel the permit and the matter was finalised.

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Judicial review of rushed assessment to dump on Caley Valley wetlands

Alliance to Save Hinchinbrook Inc v Minister for the Environment [QUD8/2015]

EDO Qld represented North Queensland community group, the Alliance to Save Hinchinbrook (ASH), in seeking judicial review in the Federal Court of Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s rushed assessment of the decision to dredge and dump on the Caley Valley Wetlands. This case challenged early stages of the Federal assessment, alleging errors of law in Minister Hunt’s decision to allow assessment by preliminary documents and to allow a short public consultation period. The case is now closed as the new Queensland Government officially withdrew its applications to Federal Environment Minister Hunt on 12 March 2015, following the announcement that they would not dump dredge spoil on the Caley Valley wetlands.

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ALPHA COAL LAND COURT OBJECTION

Hancock Coal Pty Ltd v Kelly & Ors and Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (No. 4) [2014] QLC 12

EDO Qld represented Coast and Country Association Qld (CCAQ) in their objection against the approval of the Mining Lease (ML) and Environmental Authority (EA) for GVK Hancock’s Alpha coal mine. The mine would disturb a land area of approximately 22,500 hectares, leaving a final void of approximately 2,000 hectares. It would run for up to 40 years, extracting approximately 40 million tonnes of run-of-mine coal annually – making it one of the largest coal mining proposals ever seen in Australia. The judgment in these matters was delivered 8 April 2014. The Queensland Land Court recommended that the Queensland Government either reject the Alpha coal project or approve the project subject to stricter groundwater conditions. The Court was unable to say on the evidence just how far interference with groundwater would extend, so took a precautionary approach to protect landholders.

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Wandoan Coal Mine Case

Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty Ltd & Ors v. Friends of the Earth – Brisbane Co-Op Ltd & Ors, and Department of Environment and Resource Management [2012] QLC 013

EDO Qld represented Friends of the Earth in the objection to the Mining Lease (ML) and Environmental Authority (EA) for the Wandoan Coal Project. Friends of the Earth argued for the outright refusal of the mine due to its contribution to climate change and ocean acidification once the coal from the mine was burnt. The Court acknowledged that climate change is clearly a matter of general public interest which may militate against the grant of a mining lease, but did not accept that emissions from the transport and use of the product coal were within the scope of the environmental impacts the court could consider under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 or Environmental Protection Act 1994.

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Tamborine planning appeal

Jimbelung Pty Ltd v. Beaudesert Shire Council & Ors [2005] QPEC 25
Jimbelung Pty Ltd v. Beaudesert Shire Council & Ors [2005] QPEC 32

EDO Qld acted for Friends of Mount Tamborine Association to argue that an appeal by a developer against a refusal for a development on Mount Tamborine should not be permitted to proceed due to a lapse of years since the appeal was initiated. Although the Court ruled the appeal could proceed, some court costs were awarded to our client.

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Marine plants fisheries appeal

Hemmant and Tingalpa Action Group and WPSQ Bayside Branch Inc. v Department of Primary Industries and Master Butchers Limited FT464- 2002

EDO Qld acted for the Hemmant and Tingalpa Action Group in a successful appeal in the Fisheries Tribunal against a permit for destruction of marine plants. However, the decision was then undermined by the Tribunal deciding that a permit should nonetheless be granted.

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Springbrook Cabins planning appeal

Friends of Springbrook Alliance Incorporated & Ors v Council of the
City of Gold Coast & Anor
[2003] QPEC 014
Friends of Springbrook Alliance Incorporated & Ors v Council of the
City of Gold Coast & Anor
[2005] QPELR 148

EDO Qld acted for environmentalists and residents to challenge a tourist development approved for an ecologically sensitive part of the Gold Coast Hinterland near World Heritage-listed Springbrook National Park. Although the appeal was dismissed, it led to substantial improvements in the proposed development.

The case demonstrated the value of legal action as a way of improving development outcomes because of opportunities afforded to obtain information and for negotiation.

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Paradise Dam Fisheries Tribunal appeal

Armstrong & Joss v Department of Primary Industries & Burnett Water Pty Ltd [2003] FT 515

EDO Qld acted for lungfish expert Professor Jean Joss and Graeme Armstrong in an appeal to the Fisheries Tribunal regarding a potential preliminary approval for a fishway for Paradise Dam on the Burnett River. Our clients had been denied information about the status of the approval. The appeal clarified that the fishway design had not yet been finalised nor a permit granted, so there was no capacity to appeal an approval. The appeal was successfully settled with a commitment given that Professor Joss would be given opportunity to be briefed on the design of the fishway.

Solicitors: Jo-Anne Bragg, Larissa Waters

Paradise Dam case

Wide Bay Conservation Council Inc v Burnett Water Pty Ltd [2008] FCA 1900
Wide Bay Conservation Council Inc v Burnett Water Pty Ltd
(corrigendum 15 December 2008)
[2008] FCA 1900)
Wide Bay Conservation Council Inc v Burnett Water Pty Ltd (No 2) [2009] FCA 237
Wide Bay Conservation Council Inc v Burnett  Water Pty Ltd (No 3) [2009] FCA 540
Wide Bay Conservation Council Inc v Burnett Water Pty Ltd (No 4) [2009] FCA 1013
Wide Bay Conservation Council Inc v Burnett Water Pty Ltd (No 5) [2009] FCA 1320
Wide Bay Conservation Council Inc v Burnett  Water Pty Ltd (No 6) [2009] FCA 1363
Wide Bay Conservation Council Inc v Burnett Water Pty Ltd (No 7) [2009] FCA 1376

Represented by EDO Qld, the Wide Bay Burnett Conservation Council (WBBCC) sought to compel Burnett Water, the owner and operator of the Paradise Dam on the Burnett River, to abide by a condition of its approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) relevant to lungfish.

WBBCC sought a declaration under the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth) and an injunction under the EPBC Act to restrain an alleged contravention by Burnett Water. This was the first case to focus on compliance with approval conditions under the EPBC Act. WBBCC received a grant of Commonwealth public interest test case funding, the first given for an environmental case in over a decade, in recognition of the important public interest elements in the case.

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Redland koala planning appeal

The Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland Bayside Branch (Qld) Inc v. Redland Shire Council & Anor [2007] QPEC 1

In a case that protected important koala habitat in Southeast Queensland, EDO Qld acted for the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland Bayside Branch (WPSQ Bayside Branch) to challenge approval of a residential subdivision.

WPSQ Bayside Branch appealed an approval and a preliminary approval by Redland Shire Council, in the Planning and Environment Court under the Integrated Planning Act 1997. The approved subdivision was for 94 lots and the preliminary approval for further lots in another part of the 69 hectare property.

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Xstrata climate change case

Re Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty Ltd & Ors [2007] QLRT 33
Queensland Conservation Council Inc v Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty Ltd & Ors [2007] QCA 338

In one of the first Australian cases addressing climate change, EDO Qld acted for Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) in a challenge to the expansion of a large coal mine operated by Xstrata Coal. An initial loss in the Land and Resources Tribunal was successfully appealed, but the Queensland Government enacted special legislation to preempt the retrial.

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Yeronga Park planning appeal

Kirkham v. Brisbane City Council [2007] QPEC 106

EDO Qld represented Ruth Woods in a successful planning appeal run jointly with other objectors to a development approval for a football field in a Brisbane park. This case is an example of what can be achieved by a motivated and well-organised community group.

In 2006 Brisbane City Council approved an application by the Souths Rugby Club to build a second rugby union field in Yeronga Memorial Park. Ruth Woods, a resident in Yeronga, along with members of the community group Friends of Yeronga Memorial Park, challenged the approval in the Planning and Environment Court under the Integrated Planning Act 1997.

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Gunns pulp mill case 1

The Wilderness Society Inc. v Minister for Environment and Heritage ACD 12 of 2005

EDO Qld acted for The Wilderness Society (TWS) to challenge a decision by the Federal Environment Minister about matters that should be considered in his assessment of a proposed pulp mill in Tasmania. The case was discontinued when Gunns withdrew their application.

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Nathan Dam case

Queensland Conservation Council Inc & WWF Australia v Minister for the Environment and Heritage [2003] FCA 1463
Minister for the Environment and Heritage v Queensland Conservation Council Inc & WWF Australia [2004] FCAFC 190

EDO Qld acted for the Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) and WWF Australia in a landmark case that compelled the Federal Environment Minister to consider the indirect impacts of a proposed dam. The case has considerably broadened the scope of federal environmental impact assessments under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act).

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Flying-fox case 1

Booth v Bosworth [2000] FCA 1878
Booth v Bosworth & Anor [2001] FCA 1453
Bosworth v Booth [2004] FCA 1623

In the first legal action ever taken under Australia’s current federal environment laws, EDO Qld acted for conservationist Carol Booth in a case that halted the large-scale electrocution of spectacled flying-foxes on a lychee property in north Queensland and led to the end of government-permitted electrocution of flying-foxes.

This case in the Federal Court under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) demonstrated the great value of third party rights, defined various concepts in the EPBC Act and demonstrated that the Act could be used to regulate actions taken outside a World Heritage Area that were likely to have a significant impact on its values. Read More…

Flying-fox case 2

Humane Society International Inc v Minister for the Environment & Heritage [2003] FCA 64

EDO Qld acted for Humane Society International in a successful case to ensure that the Federal Environment Minister did not abrogate his responsibility under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) to assess proposed actions likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance.

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Flying-fox case 3

Booth v. Frippery Pty Ltd and Ors [2005] QPEC 95
Booth v Frippery P/L & Ors [2006] QCA 42
Booth v Frippery P/L & Ors [2006] QCA 74
Booth v Frippery Pty Ltd & Ors [2007] QPEC 99
Frippery Pty Ltd & Ors v Booth (unreported, Queensland Court of Appeal No. 123/08)
Booth v. Frippery Pty Ltd & Ors
[2008] QPEC 122
Frippery Pty Ltd v Booth [2008] FCA 514

EDO Qld acted for Carol Booth in the first legal action using new third party rights in Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act 1992, achieving dismantlement of electric grids used to illegally kill flying-foxes on a lychee farm.

Involving a trial, an appeal, a second trial, an application for appeal, a contempt trial and an attempted suit in the Federal Court against EDO and our client, this case demonstrated that success in court can require considerable persistence. The appeal resulted in legal definition of a key concept in the Act.

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Flying-fox case 4

Booth v. Yardley [2006] QPEC 116
Booth v. Yardley & Anor [2006] QPEC 119
Booth v. Yardley & Anor [2008] QPEC 5
Booth v. Yardley & Anor [2008] QPEC 100

EDO Qld acted for conservationist Carol Booth in an unusual case involving admissions by a fruit grower in the media that he had been electrocuting flying-foxes in defiance of a Queensland Government ban on this method of crop protection. Our client succeeded in obtaining a court order for the dismantlement of the electric grids, although it took two contempt proceedings to achieve the outcome.

In early 2006 Dick Yardley, a lychee grower from Mirriwinni in North Queensland, claimed in two media interviews that he had electrocuted 1100 spectacled flying-foxes since 2001 and that he did not believe the government’s decision to ban the use of electric grids for crop protection was valid.

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Mirbelia bushland planning appeal

Cordiner v Brisbane City Council and Greymouth Pty Ltd BD 6032 of 2001
Mirbelia Street Action Group v Brisbane City Council and Greymouth Pty Limited [2003] QPEC 43

EDO Qld acted for a local community group to appeal Council approval for a residential subdivision that would destroy urban bushland. While the appeal was unsuccessful, it did achieve substantially improved conditions to protect vegetation and water quality.

In the first case, Ruth Cordiner, a member of the Mirbelia Street Action Group, appealed to the Planning and Environment Court under the Integrated Planning Act 1997 against the approval for a 32 lot residential subdivision on about 6 hectares of bushland in Kenmore, Brisbane. The case was adjourned when our client’s barrister pointed out a potentially serious defect in the two applications for the development: that each was possibly ‘piecemeal’ as neither could stand alone without the other. A new development application was subsequently made.

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Wellington Point planning appeal

Stariha v. Redland Shire Council & WPSQ Bayside [2002] QPEC 39

EDO Qld acted for Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland Bayside Branch (WPSQ Bayside) in a successful case that prevented a residential estate being built on koala habitat beside a wetland at Wellington Point. Wildlife Bayside joined as a co-respondent to the developer’s appeal. Joining as a co-respondent provides the opportunity for a community group to present evidence to the Court and keep pressure on the respondent (the local government in this case) to run a strong case.

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Fraser Island dingo case

Schneiders v Queensland [2001] FCA 553

EDO Qld acted for conservationist Lyndon Schneiders to seek an injunction to prevent the Queensland Government from culling a substantial proportion of the dingo population on Fraser Island. The case was unsuccessful, but likely to have been instrumental in persuading the Queensland Government to cease the cull and carry out a review.
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Riverfront bushland planning appeal

Wingate Properties P/L & Anor v BCC & Ors [2001] QPE 005

Represented by EDO Qld, a local environment group successfully overturned an approval by Brisbane City Council for residential development of bushland at Seventeen Mile Rocks in Brisbane.

Save Our Riverfront Bushland (SORB) appealed in the Planning and Environment Court under the Integrated Planning Act 1997 the Council’s approval for up to 90 residential allotments proposed by Wingate Developments Pty Ltd and Queensland Cement Limited.

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Mott Creek corridor appeal

Norman Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee Inc. v. Brisbane City Council & Ray Sweeney

EDO Qld acted for a community group to challenge the approval by Brisbane City Council of a townhouse development with limited setback from Mott Creek, a tributary of Norman Creek. The Norman Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee had been rehabilitating the riparian vegetation.

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