EDO is representing Traditional Owners in the Northern Flinders Ranges region of South Australia who want to defend their cultural heritage and ancestral lands from a controversial coal gasification project.
In September 2018, Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) engaged EDO to apply for an urgent injunction in South Australia’s Supreme Court to halt plans by Leigh Creek Energy to trial underground coal gasification (UCG) at Leigh Creek – about 500km North of Adelaide.
UCG involves converting coal into a gas within the coal seam. The gas is then extracted from the underground seam via wells. It’s a controversial process that is already banned in Queensland after briefing being used to devastating effect. Leigh Creek Energy has conducted a program of exploratory and appraisal drilling at Leigh Creek since July 2016 to test the potential for UCG.
ATLA has consistently opposed UCG because of the importance of the site to Adnyamathanha people.
In February 2018, ATLA made objections to the draft Environmental Impact Report and draft Statement of Environmental Objectives for the UCG trial. Despite these objections, the statement was approved in April 2018.
When the UCG trial received its final Activity Approval in early September 2018, ATLA sought an urgent interim injunction in the Supreme Court, arguing that the approval was invalid.
On 21st September 2018, despite finding that the UCG trial would cause significant, and largely irreparable, prejudice to the cultural interests of the Adnyamathanha people, the court decided that the “balance of convenience” weighed against the granting of the injunction.
In making its decision the court noted the financial “prejudice” that would be suffered by Leigh Creek Energy should its plans be delayed.
Leigh Creek Energy began its three-month UCG trial in October 2018. However, it has had difficulties establishing full gasification in the coal seam. In late 2018, Leigh Creek Energy proposed to undertake additional drilling and seismic testing in the area to inform the design for a potential commercial facility.
We are continuing to advise ATLA on its legal options for protecting the Adnyamathanha people’s ancestral lands.
EDO New South Wales is the legal entity acting in this case. EDO NSW began trading as EDO Ltd in September 2019.