Western Australia’s gas pipe dream ‘dead and buried’
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Western Australia’s gas pipe dream ‘dead and buried’

The Western Australian Supreme Court declared the proposed  James Price Point  (JPP) gas plant illegal on Monday after it found that the WA Environment Minister and the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) had acted illegally in the assessment and approval of the massive project.

In April, Woodside Petroleum announced it was dumping its $45 billion LNG investment in JPP after it found the project to be economically unviable.

Wilderness Society WA Campaign Manager Peter Robertson said the JPP plans are now dead and buried and that WA Premier Colin Barnett must face the facts, drop this unhealthy obsession, and quit the compulsory acquisition process.

The Wilderness Society took the action against the project with Goolarabooloo Traditional Owner Richard Hunter. The people of Broome and the Traditional Custodians supported the action and rallied in opposition to the WA Government and some of the world’s biggest companies.

Hunter said the EPA lied to the community, but said truth and justice have prevailed. “Today’s court ruling shows that we will do what it takes to protect the Song Cycle, this country, for future generations. Our people are strong – we are still fighting for our culture and country, we won’t be bullied into a corner by the government,” he said.

Robertson said JPP or Walmadan should remain with its Traditional Custodians to be managed for its extraordinary landscape, wildlife, and culture.

The failure of the gas project shows two things: It highlights the environmental and cultural significance of Walmadan while it underscores the importance of independent environmental assessment.

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Traditional owners Neil McKenzie, Albert Wiggan and Joseph Roe stand up against Woodside’s proposed gas hub at James Price Point. (Photo:Julia Rau)

The case also demonstrates that the States cannot be trusted to protect their own natural heritage and that the Federal Government needs to maintain environmental oversight, the Wilderness said.

Further, the Society is wary that business and investor confidence will be severely eroded around the country as environmental approvals are overturned by the courts or spend years tangled up in legal action as evidenced by the JPP ruling.

National Director Lyndon Schneiders notes that Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott  made his party’s position clear on approval powers being handed to the conflicted and under-resourced States.  Schneiders said the States cannot be trusted to look after environmental matters of national significance.

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Wilderness Society's Perth crew at Woodside's AGM in April to celebrate the dumping of Kimberley gas hub. (Photo: Wilderness Society)

Without Federal powers to override the irresponsible decisions of the States, the Great Barrier Reef, the Franklin River, the Daintree Rainforest and Fraser Island would all have been destroyed.

Recently, the Environment Defenders Office (EDO) also released the ‘One Stop Chop’ , a report containing an assessment how State governments have failed to enforce effective environmental protection laws without overriding Federal laws.