The NSW Land and Environment Court has dismissed a legal challenge to the Independent Planning Commission’s (IPC) approval of the Narrabri Gas Project. 

Environmental Defenders Office clients, the Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord (MGPA), challenged the September 2020 approval of Santos’ proposed project, arguing the IPC failed to properly assess the impacts of both the project’s greenhouse gas emissions and the pipeline required to transport gas to market and for the project to proceed. 

The proposed project involves hundreds of coal seam gas wells over a 95,000-hectare area in north-western NSW.   

It prompted substantial and unprecedented community interest with a public consultation receiving 23,000 submissions, including 133 from special interest groups and 22,721 from the general public. 98% of the submissions opposed the project. 

The judicial review proceeding filed by MGPA was heard in the NSW Land and Environment Court in August. 

Today the Court dismissed our client’s application, meaning the IPC’s decision to approve the project stands. 

Read the full judgment

MGPA spokesperson and Mullaley beef farmer Margaret Fleck said the group was disappointed with the result and will consider the reasons for the judgment:

“This was a very disappointing outcome and we will consider the judgment.”

 EDO Managing Lawyer of Safe Climate (Corporate and Gas) Brendan Dobbie said: 

“This is a very disappointing day for our clients and everyone in the Narrabri community and beyond, who are concerned about the impacts of this project. 

“If the project goes ahead, the impacts of its greenhouse gas emissions on the global climate, and the people and environment of NSW, will be substantial. At a time when the world is preparing to meet in Glasgow to discuss action to reduce emissions to avoid further catastrophic climate change, it is disheartening that those impacts are now one step closer to fruition.  

“Today the Court found that the IPC’s approval of project was valid as the law currently stands. 

“It is clear that our planning laws need to be updated and strengthened to require the climate impacts of fossil fuel projects to be rigorously scrutinised in accordance with the global scientific consensus, and to ensure, so far is possible, that the people and environment of NSW are protected from further devastating impacts of climate change.  

“We will be reviewing the judgment over the coming days.”