Great Barrier Reef group to get their day in court

Dead coral at Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef, captured by the XL Catlin Seaview Survey in May 2016.
Dead coral at Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef, captured by the XL Catlin Seaview Survey in May 2016.

A WHITSUNDAYS community group has one day in court to challenge a government decision to grant mining giant Adani's Abbot Point Terminal 0 expansion.

Brisbane Supreme Court has set down a hearing on October 7 to hear why Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping, based in Airlie Beach, has taken the Department of Environment and Adani to task over the approval.

Adani has labelled the move "another politically-motivated activist attempt to delay a centrepiece of Adani's plans to build a long-term future with Queensland".

WRAD spokeswoman Sandra Williams said the Great Barrier Reef was already in poor health and her community feared Adani's port project would cause further damage.

She said reef tourism was the backbone of the area's economy and people were worried about jobs if the reef's health suffered.

Ms Williams said an independent party needed to properly scrutinise the Queensland Government's decision to approve the expansion.

"Residents in our group have never taken legal action before, but we were forced to because of our worry that the approval of the port expansion, which will require damaging dredging and see hundreds of extra ships through the reef each year, was not lawful," the former tourism worker said.

Solicitor Jo-Anne Bragg said Environmental Defenders Office Queensland had been engaged to represent WRAD in court and scrutinise the government's compliance with the Environmental Protection Act.

She said they believed "there's been a bit of a tick-a-box exercise here, attaching conditions rather than genuine consideration of whether the project should be refused".

"We say the State Government has not complied with all the duties and criteria under the Environmental Protection Act so we're asking the supreme court, on behalf of our client, to declare that decision invalid which will mean it will have to be reconsidered according to law," she said.

A statement from Adani said a PwC report the company commissioned this week found activist-delays would have cost the state $3.9 billion in a reduction in Gross State Product through 2023-24, and 2665 jobs through 2023-24.

"This latest challenge is to a science-based approval that has now gone through three exhaustive state environmental approvals processes, and three exhaustive federal environmental approvals processes, and accompanying public consultation processes," the statement read.

"The impact of this activist-driven delay will be felt most keenly in Bowen, a community crying out for jobs and investment, with the port of Abbot Point long having been the lifeblood of the community."


Topics:  editors picks great barrier reef queensland

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