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An Indigenous activist has successfully blocked offshore seismic blasting for a $12billion gas project.

Raelene Cooper, a traditional custodian of the Murujuga land in Western Australia, was on Thursday successful in her federal court challenge against Woodside conducting the under-the-seabed blasting for its Scarborough gas project. 

Ms Cooper said she was deeply concerned about the seismic activity’s impact on whales and turtles, which are of high cultural importance for her.

‘The risks and the impacts of such destructive activities and the consequences of these actions will be life-threatening for these species,’ she said.

Thursday’s ruling marked a win for groups opposing fossil fuel developments, but a Woodside spokesperson said the blocking of the seismic blasting would have no impact on the Scarborough project’s target to produce its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo in 2026. 

Raelene Cooper, a traditional custodian of the Murujuga land in Western Australia , was on Thursday successful in her federal court challenge against Woodside’s gas project

Woodside wanted to conduct seismic under sea blasting for it’s $12billion Scarborough project (pictured)

Ms Cooper in August filed the court motion arguing the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) made an error in approving Woodside’s blasting as the company had not met the condition of properly consulting her.

Judge Craig Colvin agreed, saying NOPSEMA did not have the authority to make the decision to accept the environmental plan since it did not consult all parties, and thus the approval was invalid and overturned, court documents showed.

‘Cooper was a person who, under the terms of the conditions, was required to be consulted,’ Judge Colvin said.

On Thursday she said the court decision filled her with hope issues other than money were being considered. 

‘I’m so elated. I want my mob back home to be empowered by this day today. This is bigger than me, it’s about my people and our history,’ she said.

The massive Scarborough field is located in the Carnarvon Basin, about 375km off WA’s northwest coast.

NOPSEMA said it was reviewing the ruling to ensure future regulatory actions ‘are in accordance with the decision’. The environmental plan will be returned for NOPSEMA’s assessment again following the court’s decision.

Woodside said it would continue to work with NOPSEMA to have an accepted environment plan in place before commencing the seismic survey.

Seismic testing is used to map fossil fuel reserves under the seabed by blasting compressed air from a specially adapted ship. The noise from the blasts causes sound waves to bounce off the seabed back to sensors in the ship. 

Ms Cooper protests outside Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s office earlier this year

The $16.5 billion gas project will be connected to new offshore facilities by a 430km pipeline to the onshore Pluto liquid natural gas facility, near Karratha.

The development phase will include the installation of a floating production unit with eight wells drilled initially and thirteen wells drilled over the life of the gas field.

Woodside expects to process about five to eight million tonnes of gas per year.

Ms Cooper’s lawyers, The Environmental Defenders Office, said the project would result in carbon bomb release of an estimated 878.02 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the duration of the project.

Lawyer Clare Lakewood said Woodside had intended to continue seismic blasting while the issue of whether their approval was valid remained unresolved.

‘When NOPSEMA allowed this blasting, it was on the condition that our client should be properly consulted before it went ahead,’ she said.

‘Our client argues that the consultation requirements need to be met before NOPSEMA can give approval, not afterward, and in any case, the consultation has not taken place.’

Speaking to conservative commentator Andrew Bolt on Thursday, former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce unleashed on the decision sayin it was ‘dangerous’ because such fossil fuel and mining projects were how Australia made money. 

‘How do you expect to pay for hospitals, schools, defence and roads if you don’t make money?’ the Nationals MP said. 

‘Our job is to make a buck if you want to make this economy work – it cannot work without income. You will be poor and poor is not much fun.’ 

Conservative commentator Andrew Bolt said the decision parallels the Indigenous Voice and how it could ‘gum up the works’ of these types of projects

Former deputy PM Barnaby Joyce said fossil fuel and mining projects were how Australia made money and paid for hospitals, schools and social security 

Joyce and Bolt drew comparisons the Indigenous Voice to Parliament saying such consultation could ‘gum up the works’ of government processes. 

‘The thing that worries me about this is the use of the word consult. Isn’t the Voice about consultation? And yet we hear through the Voice debate there’s nothing to worry about,’ Joyce said.

‘If you don’t like it show me the hospital you don’t want, the road you don’t want, the social security support you don’t need.’ 

‘All the clothes you wear, the overseas car, the overseas fuel, the overseas television well something has to go on a boat in the other direction.’

Bolt added: ‘When traditional owners can stop projects far out at sea claiming it’s going to hurt a whale song line surely our laws need rewriting.’

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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