Anvil Hill Project Watch Association Inc v Minister for the Environment and others
EDO NSW acted for the Anvil Hill Project Watch Association Inc (AHPWA) in Federal Court proceedings, challenging a decision of the delegate of the Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, that the Anvil Hill project (a proposed large open cut coal mine in the Hunter Valley) was not a 'controlled action' under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
The decision of the Minister's delegate means that the project will not have to undergo any sort of environmental assessment at the Commonwealth level because it is not, in the Commonwealth's view, likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance. This case raises important issues about the extent to which, and the manner in which, the Commonwealth needs to consider greenhouse gas emissions arising from large mining or other industrial developments in Australia.
On September 20 2007, the Federal Court dismissed the Application and AHPWA appealed to the Full Federal Court.
In the appeal it was argued that a decision by the Minister whether an action is a controlled action under s.75(1) of the EPBC Act amounts to a jurisdictional fact; and also that it was not permissible for the Minister to take into account private ecological community classification systems when considering whether an EEC is present on site.
Justice Stone had dismissed these arguments at first instance and her Honour's judgment was upheld by the Full Court.