“A small group of green activists are using a special legal privilege to delay and disrupt $65 billion of investment, which is disproportionately damaging regional Australia,” said Kurt Wallace, Research Fellow with the free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.
A new report from the Institute of Public Affairs, Section 487: How activists use red tape to stop development and jobs (2020 Update), analyses the costs resulting from legal action taken under Section 487 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (2000) (EPBC Act). Section 487 of the EPBC Act extends the legal right to challenge federal environmental approvals to environmental groups.
“Over $65 billion of investment in projects, including new coal mines, dams, and roads, have been delayed in court by green activists for a combined total of 10,100 days or 28 years,” said Mr Wallace.
“Section 487 has allowed the courts to be used as a strategic tool for environmental activism. Green groups, such as the Australian Conservation Foundation and Wilderness Society, are using legal challenges to delay and disrupt major projects with the goal of restricting investment in the resources sector by raising costs and uncertainty.”
“Disruptive lawfare has not led to environmental improvements. Of the cases under Section 487, 94 per cent have failed to bring about a substantial change to the original project which had been approved by the Commonwealth Environment Minister.”
“Repealing Section 487 would be a massive shot in the arm for investment in regional Australia and create an enduring stimulus for the Australian economy.”
“Repealing Section 487 will not diminish the legal avenues available to farmers and private landowners who wish to take legal action against a mining project that could adversely affect their interests.”
“Jobs for mainstream Australians living in the regions and outer-suburbs are being put at risk by a small privileged group of inner-city activists engaging in frivolous and vexatious litigation to achieve ideological goals,” said Mr Wallace.
An amendment to the EPBC Act repealing Section 487 was passed by the Lower House in 2015 under the Abbott Government before being blocked by the Senate.
To download the report, click here.