The National Parks Association of NSW, faced with exposure to unlimited legal costs, was forced to withdraw a legal challenge in the Land and Environment Court to the NSW Government’s decision to approve Snowy 2.0.
“Our planning system is broken, all the cards are weighted in favour of government and corporations against community wishes and the public interest” stated NPA Executive Officer, Gary Dunnett.
NPA’s ability to challenge the appalling decision to inflict massive damage on Kosciuszko was already severely limited by the NSW Government’s decision to declare Snowy 2.0 as Critical State Significant Infrastructure. NPA was nonetheless able to mount a strong case for a judicial review on the grounds that the project Environmental Impact Statement didn’t fully meet the requirements of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, especially in regard to providing an analysis of feasible alternatives, cumulative impacts and greenhouse gas emissions, and to the requirements of the Wilderness Act, Biosecurity Act and Fisheries Management Act.
“On filing its Summons NPA sought consent from the Minister and Snowy Hydro to a Protective Costs Order (PCO) under Court rules, allowing limits on the costs that could be awarded against NPA in the event of the case being lost”, said Mr Dunnett.
“NPA, being a charitable not-for-profit organisation with very limited financial resources, couldn’t face the risk of having to pay the costs of such ‘deep-pocketed’ parties. This is precisely the sort of public interest case where a PCO is appropriate.”
“Despite acknowledging NPA as a key stakeholder, the government refused to consent to the proposed PCO. Snowy Hydro refused to pause while a PCO was resolved and warned that it would immediately start incurring recoverable costs.”
“Having no option but to pull out of a legal challenge is particularly galling as new information continues to be revealed demonstrating the senselessness of the Snowy 2.0 project.”
“The latest revelation was the forecast by the Australian Energy Market Operator that Snowy 2.0 is not needed till 2033, by which time other cheaper, more efficient and far less environmentally destructive energy storage projects could be commissioned (CONFIRMED: Snowy 2.0 just doesn’t make sense).
“NPA could not proceed while exposed to the costs of the NSW Government and a Commonwealth Government multi-billion Corporation in the courts. We had no option but to withdraw the Summons”, concluded Mr Dunnett
Contact: Gary Dunnett, Executive Officer NPA (02) 9299 0000