Residents Take Coal Terminal Complaint to Court

Photo: Corinn Strickland

By MarEx 2016-10-08 00:16:04

Australian local community group, Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping appeared in the Queensland Supreme Court on Friday asking the Court to scrutinize whether the state’s Department of Environment properly considered legislative tests when granting authority for Adani's controversial Abbot Point Terminal Zero (T0) port expansion.

Local grandmother, former tourism worker and spokesperson for Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping, Sandra Williams said: “As residents of the Whitsundays we believe the state government’s approval of a project that will ship millions of tons of coal through our vulnerable Great Barrier Reef was not made lawfully.

“The Reef is the lifeblood of our local economy, and it is already suffering shocking dieback from global warming. Adani’s controversial port project could push the Reef to the edge, risking more irreparable damage.

“As residents we have been forced to take legal action because, along with many thousands of Australians, we feel state and federal governments are allowing fossil fuel companies to expand this billion dollar project to the detriment of our Reef.

“We have laws in place to protect the Reef and its corals and local marine life like the endangered snubfin dolphins, turtles and giant manta rays. We want to make sure those laws have been properly applied before this controversial project is allowed to proceed.”

Imogen Zethoven, Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said “The green light for Adani to build one of the biggest coal mines in the world is an existential threat for the Reef.

“The Carmichael coal mine threatens the Great Barrier Reef by causing global warming, the warming of the Reef’s waters and coral bleaching. It will also require the Abbot Point coal port expansion, driving further industrialization of the Reef coast and increased shipping across the Reef’s waters.

“The Great Barrier Reef is a unique and valuable asset. It supports a tourism industry that provides billions to the economy and 69,000 jobs.”

State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her Government would work to stop protracted legal challenges from green activist groups.

“As my Mines Minister (Dr Anthony Lynham) is fond of saying – everyone deserves their day in court, but not four years in court,” she said.

“We have increased resourcing for the Land Court and appointed a new president to streamline some of the legal challenges.

“I was very pleased to hear Adani say publicly they expect to begin construction next year.”

Local media reports that an Adani spokesman said the comments were a positive sign for the future of the coal mega mine project.

Sitting adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and 25 kilometers from the town of Bowen, Abbot Point is a headland of great natural significance. Already home to a 50 million ton coal terminal (T1) since the 1980s, the area is slated for two government-supported expansions (T0 by Adani and T3 by GVK Hancock).

Terminal zero is situated between a turtle-nesting beach and naturally significant Caley Valley wetlands. The project would involve over one million cubic meters of dredged material being dumped beside the wetlands. 

The passage will be used to export 70 mega tons of thermal coal per year from the company’s proposed Carmichael mine and other mines in the Galilee Basin.

The Court’s decision could be handed down within three months.