ADANI MINE: Green group avoids costs in legal challenge
MORE mines could face environmental legal challenges after the Queensland Land Court ruled it could not order challengers to pay mining companies' legal costs.
The Queensland Land Court ruled on Monday environmental group Coast and Country did not have to pay miner Adani's legal fees as the court did not have jurisdiction to order them in the case of environmental challenges.
Adani applied for Coast and Country to pay costs after the court ruled in December the mine could go ahead.
But Land Court president Carmel MacDonald agreed with Coast and Country's lawyer's submissions that the examination of the proposed mine was an "administrative enquiry" rather than a "proceeding" and consequently the court did not have jurisdiction to order costs be paid.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said the decision meant there was no financial penalty for losing an objection to a mining lease.
"It's a bit of an invitation for objectors to roll up to court and suffer no financial penalty for delaying a project," he said.
Mr Roche said in light of the decision the QRC was renewing their call for the Land Court to be replaced by the old Land and Resources Tribunal which had a six-month time limit.
"The president's decision essentially confirms the Land Court is just a glorified tribunal anyway," he said.
But Coast and Country representative Derec Davies said the challenge had been in the public interest.
"Coast and Country's challenge to the Carmichael mine was the community stepping up to protect the Great Barrier Reef, the one million-year-old artesian springs, and the black throated finch. It was a challenge that had to happen," he said.
Environmental Defenders Office Queensland principal Sean Ryan said the ruling meant community objections to mining could continue.
EDOQ represented Coast and Country.
"Community objections to mining are a normal part of the administrative assessment process; important to both the public interest and the protection of the environment," he said.
Adani did not respond to ARM Newsdesk's request for comment. - ARM NEWSDESK