Arid Environment

Arid Lands Environment Center and Central Land Council launch legal action over Singleton Station water license

The Northern Territory’s largest-ever groundwater license will be scrutinised by the NT Supreme Court, as native title holders and an environment group serve claims against the NT government and the water license’s proponent.

The Central Land Council (CLC) and the Arid Lands Environment Center (ALEC) have filed papers for a judicial review of Fortune Agribusiness’s 40,000-megalitre water license at a remote cattle station, 400 kilometers north of Alice Springs.

The license permits Fortune Agribusiness to extract 40,000 megalitres of groundwater each year from Singleton Station, an arid cattle property near Tennant Creek.

The CLC and the ALEC allege the government was not following its own Water Act when it approved the license in April last year.

The CLC chief executive officer, Les Turner, said the cattle station’s Mpwerempwer Traditional Owners hoped to see the license overturned, either in full or in part.

Les Turner says the CLC hopes to show that the water license was erroneously approved.(ABC Alice Springs: Samantha Jonscher)

Possible legal errors behind license

ALEC general manager Jade Kudrenko said she hoped the legal action would shine a light on the Northern Territory’s water management.

“This is an opportunity to shine a light on what is an gifting of water in an ecological framework that does not protect cultural and cultural values ​​in the Territory.”

a woman with a blonde bob looks serious
ALEC’s Jade Kudrenko hopes the legal action will shine a light on the NT’s water management. (ABC News: Xavier Martin)

Managing lawyer of the freshwater program at the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), Emma Carmody, has taken the case on for the Arid Lands Environment Centre.

Dr Carmody said the license was the largest she had ever dealt with in her 15 years of practice.

“The largest groundwater license that’s been approved in New South Wales — which is a very developed state with a lot of irrigation — has been for 15,000 megalitres, so much smaller.”

Three grounds for review

Dr Carmody said her client, ALEC, would argue that Environment Minister Eva Lawler made a number of legal errors in approving the licence.

A woman with brown hair in a bun wearing glasses
Dr Emma Carmody from the Envorinmental Defenders Office.(Supplied: Emma Carmody)

The EDO would argue there were three grounds for judicial review of the licence.

Dr Carmody said the case would allege Ms Lawler failed to comply with the region’s water allocation plan when it approved the license and “applied another policy document” in its place.

“The water allocation plan includes criteria which are designed to protect groundwater-dependent ecosystems,” Dr Carmody said.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button