The Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has refused approval for an application to clear approximately 2,000 hectares of native vegetation at Kingvale Station in far north Queensland. The proposed clearing would have occurred in a catchment area flowing into the Great Barrier Reef.
Minister Ley has refused approval because of the proposal’s likely significant impacts on threatened species and ecological communities.
EDO has represented the Environment Council of Central Queensland (ECoCeQ) in relation to the proposal since 2018.
In 2018, EDO acted for ECoCeQ in a successful Federal Court challenge of the Minister’s decision to apply the least rigorous form of environmental assessment under Commonwealth environmental law. The Minister conceded that that decision was not made lawfully. The Minister then decided to apply a stronger method of assessment.
During the assessment process, EDO continued to assist ECoCeQ to engage with the Minister, corresponding with the Minister about our client’s concerns about the proposal and the appropriate application of the law to protect the environment. EDO also attended a stakeholder meeting as ECoCeQ’s legal representative to discuss these concerns directly with the Minister.
EDO welcomes the Minister’s decision to apply the law to protect native flora and fauna and the precious Great Barrier Reef.
This decision highlights the importance of Commonwealth involvement in project approvals.
A proposal that would devolve environmental responsibilities to the States is currently before Parliament. For more information, see EDO’s Devolving Extinction report and our blog about EPBC Act reform.