Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt. Mike Richards GLA301013ENVN

Lawyers against mine approval argue Hunt broke law

LAWYERS fighting a legal battle against the Federal Government's approval of the Galilee Basin's Carmichael Mine say environment minister Greg Hunt made an illegal error.

The Environmental Defenders Office is preparing a legal case against Mr Hunt, which will be heard in the Federal Court later this year.

EDO principal solicitor Sue Higginson said Mr Hunt had several documents on his desk when he considered the mine's approval; a statement from mining company Adani's about its good environmental history, and others which detailed the company's environmental history in India, which indicated Adani had previously breached environmental laws.

Ms Higginson said Mr Hunt was required to take this evidence into account but claimed the minister instead dismissed it.

"We're seeking the judiciary to review the minister's position on that because we're saying the law required him to take into account Adani's history in India because he had that before him," she said.

"We don't think the interpretation the minister has taken is the correct one (considering) the papers he had before him."

A spokesman from Mr Hunt's office said the minister made his decision in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Protection Act but would not comment further as the case was before the court.

The Act says a minister must consider a "person's history in relation to environmental matters" when deciding whether a project can be approved.

An Adani spokesman last week said this related to its environmental history in Australia but Ms Higginson disagreed.

"In this circumstance he was required to take into account Adani's record in India as well as Australia," she said.

The Adani spokesman said the approvals process for the Carmichael Mine was the most stringent ever applied to a single site in the history Australian Government approvals.

"Over a nearly five-year period - commenced, then completed, under successive governments of differing political persuasions - the mine was assessed against these strict standards and then approved with more conditions than any other site in our nation's history," an Adani spokesman said.

But along with Adani's history in India, the Mackay Conservation Group is also taking action against Mr Hunt for allegedly not considering the wider environmental impacts when approving the mine.

Ms Higginson said Mr Hunt also needed to take into account the environmental impact of burnt coal mined from the Carmichael Mine.