EDO has launched legal action on behalf of Tasmanian conservationists to challenge the decision allowing the night-time trucking of ore along 112kms of Tasmanian Devil habitat in the state’s Tarkine region.
EDO, acting for the Tarkine National Coalition Inc (TNC), is seeking judicial review of the Tasmanian Environmental Protection Authority’s decision to vary mine permit conditions to allow night ore transport putting the North-West Devil population at risk of becoming roadkill. The solicitor on record in this case is managing lawyer Claire Bookless.
The Venture Minerals Ltd’s Riley Creek mine was recently given the green light by the EPA for the night-time transport of the ore through the length of the Tarkine region – an area recommended for National Heritage listing and which provides key habitat for Tasmania Devils already under pressure from infectious cancer.
TNC coordinator Patrick Johnson said the decision to allow ore trucked at night would directly impact the already endangered Tasmanian Devil population.
“The treasured Tasmanian devil is threatened with extinction, and this decision only puts further strain on an already endangered population,” Mr Johnson said.
“The risk to the species is much greater if night-time trucking from the mine is allowed along the highway, given that roadkill is an additional pressure to the mortality from devil facial tumour disease.”
Claire Bookless, Managing Lawyer- Tasmania of EDO said this case highlights problems with how our environmental laws are being applied to reduce protections for threatened species, such as Tasmanian Devils, and without opportunities for public comment or appeal.
“The decision to allow night ore transport was made despite EDO, on behalf of TNC, providing a detailed submission to the Director of the Environmental Protection Authority outlining serious concerns about the proposal,” Ms Bookless said.
“Our client will be arguing that the EPA Director’s decision does not take into account the flaws in the roadkill assessment submitted on behalf of the mine, nor does it properly address the real question as to whether the mine’s permit lapsed.”
The TNC has been fighting for more than a decade to have the Tarkine, an area which contains the world’s second-largest temperate rainforest, protected as a World Heritage-listed National Park.
Mr Johnson said the decision from the Tasmanian Director of the EPA was further proof of facilitating economic growth at the cost of the environment and wildlife.
“Decisions to alter mine permits that directly impact threatened species should not be made without community consultation, which on this occasion has not occurred,” he said.
“We want the decision to be overturned and for the Director of the EPA to respect the limits on his power to change mine permit conditions. We also want a ruling from the Court on whether the mine’s permit has lapsed, as it appears that the mine did not substantially commence its activities within statutory timeframes.”
The case is listed for a directions hearing before the Tasmanian Supreme Court on 21 September 2021.