Feds reject claim mine should not have been approved

The Australian Conservation Foundation has claimed in court the approval of the proposed Carmichael coal mine was made in error.
The Australian Conservation Foundation has claimed in court the approval of the proposed Carmichael coal mine was made in error. Robert Rough

GOVERNMENT lawyers have rejected a green group's claim that Adani's Carmichael coal mine was approved in error.

The Australian Conservation Foundation on Friday launched a Federal Court appeal against an earlier court decision that confirmed the Federal Government's environmental approval of the Carmichael mine.

ACF lawyer Saul Holt said former Environment Minister Greg Hunt had incorrectly dismissed the potential emissions that burning Carmichael-mined coal could have on the environment.

Mr Holt said the minister's approval document said the mine's environmental impact could not be determined as coal from other mines could be burnt in its place, causing similar damage to the climate.

Mr Holt said the minister should not have considered hypothetical situations, and the prior court erred when it accepted those arguments.

"What someone else might do if this action (the mine's approval) does not go ahead is irrelevant," he said.

But lawyer for the government Richard Lancaster said it was "logical and legal" to consider alternatives when determining whether the mine should be approved.

"What the minister had to decide was, to put it colloquially, will it make a difference?" he said.

"Will it cause an increase in emissions?"

Mr Lancaster said the minister was correct in considering outcomes including whether coal from other mines would be burnt instead, or if Carmichael's coal may be used rather than other fuels.

Mr Lancaster said the ACF's appeal failed to address parts of the prior judgment or establish that the judge had made errors.

Mr Holt denied that if the court accepted his argument it would doom any future coal mines from being approved.

"The act does not protect the environment at all costs," he said.

"There could be other situations where approving the mine is quite appropriate."

The court reserved its decision.


Topics:  adani adani carmichael coal mine australian conservation foundation environmental approvals federal court federal government

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