Federal environment minister and Tasmanian resources minister are being taken to court by former Greens leader Bob Brown’s foundation (BBF).
This comes after light was shed on the controversial plans to allow Chinese mining outfit MMG to store heavy metal waste in a tailings dam in the ancient Tarkine rainforest.
The BBF is challenging the Tasmanian government’s decision to grant a lease over of a road near the MMG proposed dam site, stating that it is targeted at stopping protestors gathering in the area rather than benefiting the Chinese owned company.
If approved it is claimed that 285 hectares of the Tarkine forest would be cleared, which would increase the life of the nearby Rosebery mine.
On top of this the BBF is also seeking to overthrow federal minister Susan Ley’s approval for MMG to conduct investigatory work at the proposed site.
The federal court has been told by the BBF foundation that the decision to allow the mining the mining company to undertake initial work was invalid as she had not taken into consideration the forests status as a feeding and breeding site for Tasmanian masked owls.
It is alleged that the approval came despite Ms. Ley’s own government department advising that “scale, nature and location” of the action “may … impact” the birds, which are vulnerable to extinction.”
MMG itself tabled proposals to “avoid clearance of any tree greater than one metre in diameter … and observe a 15-metre buffer around identified Tasmanian Masked Owl habitat trees”. However, it does not appear that even these were taken into consideration by Ms. Ley.
The foundation went on to state that “no reasonable person” could have made that decision as there was “no basis … upon which she could … conclude that the [owl] was not likely to be significantly impacted by the proposed action”.