LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – The Age reports that a Federal Court judge has granted an application to expedite an appeal over a $2 billion pulp mill proposal in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley.
The appeal concerns a Federal Court decision earlier this month which rejected a challenge by the Wilderness Society and business group, Investors for the Future of Tasmania, to the federal government’s environmental assessment of the proposed mill.
Counsel for the Wilderness Society Richard Niall told the court it was seeking to expedite the appeal hearing on this judgment.
He told the court there was a real risk that a federal government decision on the mill could be made and work commence before the appeal was heard.
Project developer Gunns Limited and federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull were represented at the hearing and both parties stated they neither consented nor opposed the application to expedite the appeal hearing.
In granting the appeal, Justice Alan Goldberg said an important consideration was the public interest element.
“In all the circumstances it is appropriate and just having regard to the particular circumstances of the subject matter of this appeal and the public interest element in it that the appeal be expedited,” he said.
A date for the appeal hearing, expected to last up to three days, was not set but the Wilderness Society expects it will now occur some time in October.
There has been fierce opposition to the project, with high-profile businessman Geoffrey Cousins leading a campaign involving Cate Blanchett, Bryan Brown, David Williamson and John Newcombe.