The Australian Conservation Foundation Incorporated filed a judicial review challenge in a suit against the Minister for the Environment and Energy and Adani over the development of a coal mine in the lower suit. The ACF appealed the decision dismissing the judicial review challenge. Adani proposed to develop and operate a coal mine and associated infrastructure in Central Queensland. The ACF alleged error by the Minister in failing to determine the impact of combustion emissions on the Great Barrier Reef under s 527E of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The Minister had approved the coal mine project on October 14, 2015.
The Act requires consideration of the proposal in connection with, among other things, its effects upon the environment. There is a prohibition upon the taking of action that has, will have, or is likely to have a significant impact on the environment. The ACF claimed that the Minister made an error of law in failing to consider the effect of emissions from transport by rail, shipping, and combustion of the product coal overseas, in characterising these emissions as “not a direct consequence of the proposed action,” and in failing to consider or apply the precautionary principle in relation to the possible impacts on relevant matters of national environmental significance. The court upheld the lower court’s findings that the Minister’s reasons reflected a proper discharge of his statutory duty in a judgement issued on August 25, 2017.
However, in a judgement issued December 15, 2017, the Court accepted that matters concerning the Reef and climate change were important to Australians. It ordered that the appellant pay each respondent’s costs of the appeal.