The West Australian Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) has launched a second legal challenge on behalf of a traditional owner against survey works at Woodside Petroleum’s proposed $30 billion Kimberley gas hub site.
The EDO on Wednesday claimed WA Planning Minister John Day had moved the goalposts ahead of its original legal challenge - due to be heard in the Court of Appeal on Tuesday - contesting shire planning approval for Woodside to work on the James Price Point site, 60km north of Broome.
It said Mr Day had amended local planning rules specifically allowing Woodside to conduct preliminary works at the culturally and environmentally sensitive site without shire approval.
Today, the EDO said it would challenge the minister’s move on behalf of Goolarabooloo man Richard Hunter, a traditional owner of James Price Point.
“Just a week before the WA Court of Appeal was due to hear Richard Hunter’s challenge to Woodside’s works on James Price Point, the minister for planning amended the local planning instrument to authorise Woodside to carry on works even if its planning approval is invalid,” the EDO said in a statement.
“Mr Hunter has hit back with another Supreme Court challenge alleging the changes to the local planning law are invalid because the minister for planning acted for the improper purpose of altering the outcome of (Mr Hunter’s) existing court case which was commenced on May 28.”
The original case was launched by the EDO on Mr Hunter’s behalf against the Shire of Broome, after it argued the Kimberley Joint Development Assessment Panel had granted retrospective and new approvals to Woodside without the shire’s consent.
EDO principal solicitor Josie Walker said at the time Mr Hunter was suing the Shire of Broome for allowing the decision to be made on its behalf.
Three weeks ago, Woodside agreed not to commence drilling works and to stay out of the most sensitive areas at James Price Point until the Court of Appeal made a final decision on the case.The EDO said if Mr Hunter won his case - as well as the most recent one launched on Friday - Woodside could be forced to stop all works on James Price Point.
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