SYDNEY: An Australian court on Wednesday revoked the approval of an Indian-backed project building what would be one of the world’s biggest coal mines which environmentalists say threatens the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.
But while environment groups hailed the decision as another important step in the Aus$16.5-billion ($12.2-billion) project’s eventual demise, Indian firm Adani insisted it would go ahead.
“With the consent of the parties, the Federal Court has formally set aside the approval of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project,” Australia’s Environment Department said in a statement.
Environmental groups had challenged the government’s approval of the mine on the basis of the enormous amount of greenhouse gases it would create, its impact on vulnerable species and Adani’s “poor environmental record.”
They also have protested against its impact on the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s most biodiverse marine areas, because the coal would have to be shipped out of a nearby port, as well as the damage caused by climate change.
The court did not publish its findings but the Environment Department said the decision was made because there was a possibility the advice it provided to Environment Minister Greg Hunt before he made his decision did not meet all technical requirements.
“This is a technical, administrative matter and to remove this doubt, the department has advised that the decision should be reconsidered,” it said.
“Reconsidering the decision does not require revisiting the entire approval process.”
Sue Higginson, a lawyer for the Mackay Conservation Group which brought the legal challenge, said the court ruled on whether due consideration had been given to advice about two vulnerable reptiles—the lizard-like yakka skink and the ornamental snake.