Melbourne, June 24: The 21.5-billion dollar Australian rail and mine project of Indian energy giant Adani Mining today faced another legal hurdle after a community group asked the Supreme Court to scrutinise Queensland state government's decision to approve the firm's Abbot Point Terminal expansion.
Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping, claiming to save the Great Barrier Reef, brought an application to the Queensland Supreme Court that sought a hearing to determine whether the state's environment department properly considered legislative tests when approving the contentious port expansion.
A former tourism worker and spokesperson for the activist group, Sandra Williams said, "Australia's precious Great Barrier Reef is already in poor health, and Indian coal company Adani's controversial port project, which will cause irreparable damage, has raised significant concern in our community."
"We believe the approval of Adani's port proposal was unlawful and, long with many thousands of Australians, we feel that it is wrong to damage the glorious Great Barrier Reef to build a port for an unviable foreign owned coal mine that nobody wants or needs," Williams said.
"There is a question mark over whether the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection properly assessed the project, as required by law, before it gave this billion dollar proposal the green light. It is critically important that the decision, which has such grave implications for the Great Barrier Reef, is properly scrutinised," she said.
"Both state and federal governments in Australia are allowing fossil fuel companies to expand the port, for a coal project that will decimate the Reef and its glorious corals, and threaten marine life, including endangered snubfin dolphins, turtles and giant manta rays."
Meanwhile in response to the latest legal challenge, an Adani spokesperson said that it was yet another attempt by activists to delay the project - one of the world's largest coal mines - and highlighted the massive costs to Queensland.
"What we see today is yet another politically-motivated activist attempt to delay a centrepiece of Adani's plans to build a long-term future with Queensland," he said, adding that "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 activists are again represented by a group committed through multiple challenges to delay investment and job creation through resource projects in this state."
He highlighted that as a PwC report commissioned by Adani released this week noted that activist-delays would have cost "our state USD 3.9 billion in a reduction in Gross State Product through 2023-24, and 2,665 jobs through 2023-24."
"Unusually, the activist advancing this challenge today reportedly said that it would be wrong to build a port at Abbot Point. The port already exists, and is strictly regulated. It has operated for several decades," he said.