The State Government has rejected Adani’s black-throated finch management plan in another blow to the planned Carmichael coal project.
The Department of Environment and Science said it had advised Adani that it could not approve the plan in its current form because it did not meet the requirements of the company’s environmental authority.
“However, Adani may submit a new or revised Black-throated Finch Management Plan (BTFMP) for DES’s consideration,” it said in a media statement.
“This position is based on the best available science.”
Significant disturbance cannot commence at the Carmichael site until DES approves both the BTFMP and Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP).
The latest development prompted Adani Mining chief executive officer Lucas Dow to call for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to show leadership, requesting the Queensland Government commit once and for all to a date to finalise the plans.
“We have endured more than 18 months of endless requests for 11th hour changes, not to mention an external review lead by an individual who heads up an organisation whose members have stated anti-mining, anti-coal agendas, all while the Department has been waving through environmental approvals for other coal mines that also contain black-throated finches,” he said.
“We are not unreasonable and we will continue to work with the Queensland Government to finalise these plans. We’ve jumped all their past hurdles and we’ll jump this one as well, but it’s time for the Queensland Labor Government to give us a date on finalising these outstanding management plans once and for all.
“We are not going away and we will see this through for the benefit of Queensland and in particular for the people in regional Queensland.”
The DES said it was seeking a number of commitments from Adani, including gathering more accurate population information, which was vital to effectively manage and monitor the impacts of the project on the finch and essential habitats in the project area.
“DES invites Adani to make a clear commitment to a limited grazing regime in the project area, and to provide sufficient detail of research that will determine seed availability throughout the year. Both actions are vital to sustaining the black-throated finch population,” the department stated.
“Timeframes associated with the approval of the BTFMP now rest with Adani.”
The department said the black-throated finch population at this site represented the largest known population of the endangered southern species of the bird.
Mr Dow said Adani Mining was feverishly working through the department’s new requests.
“Although we believe the current version of the black-throated finch management plan already meets our project conditions, we are not going to be pig-headed about it and we will review the feedback from the Queensland Department and respond accordingly,” he said.
“However, department officials have refused to commit to a timeframe to finalise the plan, even if we were to accept the State’s new round of requests in full. At what point does the Environment Minister get held to account for the performance of her own department and its behaviour?”
Mr Dow said it appeared new requested changes stretched well beyond the conditions of the Environmental Authority that Adani was obligated to meet.
“One example of such overreach includes the department’s insistence on post-doctoral qualifications for certain activities, yet the Environmental Authority makes no reference of people needing to hold post-doctoral qualifications rather it simply states Adani Mining should instead require qualified ecologists,” Mr Dow said.
“Which means we will engage people with relevant experience and qualifications – to insist that people must hold post-doctoral studies is both misplaced and entirely restrictive. We will engage the people that are best qualified and experienced, which may include people with post-doctoral qualifications.
“Accordingly we are saying the Queensland Labor Government cannot continue to try and make up new conditions or rules on the run.”