The Federal Government’s decision not to apply the “water trigger” to Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme will be closely scrutinised to ensure it is lawful under the Commonwealth’s environmental protection framework, the Environmental Defenders Office said today.

The decision came during the Government’s reassessment of the project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and means the water impacts of the major pipeline system will not be rigorously assessed, at a time when much of the country is in drought.

The reassessment is being made after the Federal Government conceded a case over its initial assessment process brought by the Environmental Defenders Office, acting on behalf of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

In that case the Federal Government admitted it had failed to consider some of the thousands of public submissions in its initial assessment, but did not concede that it should have applied the ‘water trigger’ during its assessment of the project.

Environmental Defenders Office managing solicitor Sean Ryan said:

“The community has expressed grave concerns about the potential water impacts of this project, which would see 12 billion litres of water a year taken from the Suttor River in central Queensland to Adani’s mine site.

“This is particularly sensitive at a time of extreme drought.

“The decision not to apply the water trigger to this project is baffling to many people in the community.

“The water trigger is there to ensure any significant impacts on water resources from actions which involve a large coal mining development are properly assessed.

“The fact the Federal Government did not apply the water trigger to the North Galilee Water Scheme in its original assessment process precipitated our client’s challenge in the Federal Court.

“We will be working with our clients to closely scrutinise the reasons behind this new decision to ensure it is lawful and in compliance with our federal protection framework.”