CASE UPDATE: On Thursday 14 September, Justice Colvin decided that the injunction should be granted in part due to the reasonable prospect that the first ground of Raelene Cooper’s substantive legal challenge to NOPSEMA approval of the seismic blasting will be successful. His honour brought the hearing for that argument, and a separate question of Ms Cooper’s standing as to her second ground, forward until later this month.
The injunction prevents Woodside conducting seismic testing for the Scarborough Gas Project until 5pm 28 September. A decision about costs of the injunction application was reserved.
CASE UPDATE: After a brief hearing on Friday 8 September, Woodside has agreed to extend its pause on seismic blasting for another six days. We will be back in court on Thursday 14th to argue for an interlocutory injunction to stop blasting going ahead while the validity of Woodside’s approval is facing legal challenge.
Woodside Energy has put on hold plans to begin seismic blasting today, after a Traditional Custodian filed for an urgent injunction to stop the testing going ahead while a legal challenge was underway.
On Tuesday, Woodside advised it was going ahead with the blasting today for its Scarborough Gas Project off the Western Australia coast.
Scarborough is a massive LNG proposal off Murujuga/the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia which will result in the release of an estimated 878.02 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.
This morning, Mardudhunera woman Raelene Cooper filed an urgent injunction, asking the Federal Court to put an immediate halt to the seismic blasting plans while the validity of approvals was still under challenge.
Ms Cooper filed a legal challenge last month in relation to the approval of the seismic blasting. Ms Cooper argues that the decision by the offshore regulator NOPSEMA to allow the blasting was unlawful and that she has not been properly consulted as required by law.
Ms Cooper is deeply concerned about the seismic activity’s impact on Songlines and species connected to them, such as whales, which are very culturally significant.
In a brief hearing this morning, following service of the injunction application, Woodside agreed to postpone the blasting until a further hearing on Friday (tomorrow).
Raelene Cooper said:
“These majestic and graceful marine mammals carry our Songlines from one part of Country to another, they and many water animals carry our Songlines and dreaming stories, they are documented on our munda (our rocks), they are our dreaming stories I hold.
“The risks and the impacts of such destructive activities and the consequences of these actions will be life threatening for these species of marine life.
EDO Special Counsel Clare Lakewood said:
“Woodside wants to press ahead with this seismic blasting while the issue of whether their approval is valid remains unresolved.
“In the circumstances our client felt she had no choice but to ask the court for an urgent injunction to stop this blasting taking place.
“Our client has serious concerns about how this blasting will affect Songlines and the animals that carry and follow those Songlines.
“When NOPSEMA allowed this blasting, it was on the condition that our client should be properly consulted before it went ahead.
“Our client argues that the consultation requirements need to be met before NOPSEMA can give approval, not afterwards, and in any case, the consultation has not taken place.”
EDO would like to thank barristers Claire Harris SC, Laura Hilly and Patrick Coleridge for their assistance.