Legal Proceedings Affecting Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project

Land and Environment Court
The Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord (MGPA) group have brought proceedings seeking a judicial review of the Independent Planning Commission’s (IPC) decision to approve Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project.

The MGPA farmers, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office, are arguing in the Land and Environment Court that the IPC did not assess the gasfield’s climate impacts in a way that was consistent with the law and failed to assess the impacts of an external pipeline which would be needed to transport the gas.

On 22 March Justice Pain ruled that the MGPA is permitted to lead evidence from former Australian Chief Scientist, Professor Penny Sackett, on issues relating to climate change. This is a significant decision because expert evidence is rarely permitted in a judicial review. Santos had opposed the MGPA’s application on the basis that expert evidence was not required in the proceedings.

The Court will hold a further directions hearing on the matter this Friday (March 26) and the matter has been listed for final hearing for three days beginning 30 August 2021.

Lock the Gate media release

Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Australian Conservation Foundation is to challenge, in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Morrison government’s claim that national cabinet deliberations are exempt from freedom of information laws in a bid to access information on at least 15 environmental approvals fast-tracked by Environment Minister Sussan Ley, including the Narrabri Gas Project.

Federal Court
Eight teenagers have been to the Federal Court in Melbourne, challenging the Federal Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley, to protect young people from climate change and the future harms of coal mining. The five-day trial will determine the future of the proposed Vickery open-cut coal mine extension near Narrabri. If successful, the case could set a precedent to stop government approval of new fossil fuel projects.

This would include the expansion of gas mining from Dubbo to the Queensland border, where twelve gas exploration licences have been expired for years but not cancelled. Now the Narrabri Gas Project has been approved companies holding these licences want to explore for gas on prime agricultural land.

A judgement may not be delivered for several months.