Two legal challenges seeking to stop works on the controversial $30 billion Kimberley gas hub at James Price Point were thrown out of court today.
Goolarabooloo traditional owner Richard Hunter, represented by the Environmental Defender’s Office, had launched a court action claiming invalid approval had been granted to Woodside Petroluem for the gas project in February.
He then launched a second action against Planning Minister John Day after the Minister amended local planning laws to authorise work on the project regardless of whether the approval was deemed valid.
The EDO argued the change to the laws, specifically an interim development order, had been made for the improper purpose of thwarting the first court action.
Today, both actions were dismissed in the Supreme Court after Chief Justice Wayne Martin deemed there was insufficient evidence to show the minister had not acted for a proper planning purpose.
As a result, the original action challenging the validity of the approval would have no effect because the change to the laws meant the project would continue even if the approval was found to be invalid.
A lawyer for the EDO argued the matter should still be heard because of public interest but the court ruled it inappropriate to continue with an action that had no practical impact.
Woodside welcomed the move, with a spokeswoman saying the oil and gas giant would continue with its work program “in accordance with consent and approvals that have been obtained”.
A spokesperson for Mr Hunter said that despite losing the court battle through “legal interference” with planning laws, Mr
Hunter had won the “moral victory” by showing the Government was using an “undemocratic process” for the proposal.The gas project has sparked protests from local and environmental groups.
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