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Northern Inland Council for the Environment v Minister for Environment (Maules Creek and Boggabri Mine Cases)

The Northern Inland Council for the Environment (NICE) is challenging Commonwealth approvals for two coal mines in the Leard State Forest near Boggabri. One is the proposed new Maules Creek mine, owned by Whitehaven, the other is an expansion of the existing Boggabri Mine, owned by Idemitsu.

If they go ahead, the proposals will result in the clearing of over 600 hectares of the critically endangered Box Gum Woodland, as well as loss of habitat for the Swift Parrot, the Regent Honeyeater and the Greater Long-eared Bat, and the endangered plant species Tylophera linearis .

A key ground of challenge is that the Commonwealth Minister for Environment breached the EPBC Act by allowing his decision to be influenced by the release of commercially sensitive correspondence by the NSW government.

The two approvals also rely heavily on offsets to compensate for significant impacts on endangered communities and threatened species. NICE will argue that the Minister made a legal error by not requiring independent verification of the offsets before the approval was granted. NICE will also argue that the Minister failed to take into account approved conservation advices for listed threatened species and ecological communities.

These two cases were commenced on 18 July 2013.

The EDO is grateful for the assistance of barristers Sarah Pritchard SC and Craig Lenehan who are acting as counsel for NICE.

More casework info.