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  • The Federal Court has upheld a ministerial decision to approve the Adani Qld coal mine project, which had been challenged over likely impacts of mine combustion emissions on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
  • The Court considered certain provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), the precautionary principle and Australia’s obligations under the World Heritage Convention.
  • The judgment illustrates some of the obstacles that arise under Australian and international law when challenging environmental decision-making.

In Australian Conservation Foundation Incorporated v Minister for the Environment [2016] FCA 1042, Griffiths J dismissed an application for judicial review of a decision made by the Minister for the Environment.

These proceedings were prompted by concerns about the likely impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the Great Barrier Reef arising from the transport and combustion overseas of coal produced at a mine.

This note reviews the factual and legal background and how the Federal Court dealt with the parties’ submissions before considering several implications of this case.

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