Past Court Cases · Nature & the Reef

ACF appeal of Federal Court Adani Carmichael decision

25 August, 2017

ACF disputed the Environment Minister’s argument in court that the burning of coal from Carmichael mine will not have an impact on global warming and the Great Barrier Reef. The appeal was heard on 3 March 2017. On 25 August 2017 the Federal Court dismissed the appeal.

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

EDO Qld, on behalf of Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), lodged an appeal against the Federal Court’s decision which found the approval of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine to be lawful. The appeal challenges the lawfulness of the Minister’s finding that the burning of coal from the Carmichael mine will not have an impact on global warming and the Reef. 

ACF disputed the Environment Minister’s argument in court that the burning of coal from Carmichael mine will not have an impact on global warming and the Great Barrier Reef. The appeal was heard on 3 March 2017. On 25 August 2017 the Federal Court dismissed the appeal (Read the full judgment).

Background

ACF first sought the independent judicial review in the Federal Court on 9 November 2015 after the Federal Environment Minister re-approved the environmental authority for Adani’s Carmichael project on 14 October 2015. This followed a Federal Court decision 6 August 2015 to set aside the Minister’s first approval of the project (granted on 28 July 2014) after he failed to consider conservation advice on vulnerable species.

On behalf of ACF, EDO Qld sought an independent judicial review by the Federal Court of the legality of Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s re-approval of the project. The hearing took place on the 3rd and 4th of May 2016 in the Federal Court in Brisbane. The case was about whether the Minister correctly applied the law when considering the impacts of the project on climate change and our Great Barrier Reef. 

Australia has an international legal obligation to do all it can to protect our the Reef for future generations. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) states the Minister must not act inconsistently with Australia’s responsibilities under the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (the World Heritage Convention).

On Monday 29 August 2016, the Federal Court dismissed the challenge. The Court accepted that the Minister concluded that the combustion emissions from the proposed mine would have no relevant impact on the Great Barrier Reef.

Previous court challenges from a number of other community groups have highlighted risks posed by the Carmichael mine to the ancient groundwater springs of the nearby Doongmabulla Springs Complex and the largest remaining population of the endangered Black-throated Finch (Southern), and also revealed that Adani’s EIS material overstated the claimed job creation and economic benefits of the project. Read more about the Adani Carmichael Land Court objection from our client Land Services of Coast and Country Inc. (Coast and Country).