Border environmental groups are adding to pressure for a "water trigger" to be applied to a Adani's North Galilee Water Scheme after a Federal Court ruling against the federal government set back the approval process.
Protests were held outside the Albury office of Farrer MP and Environment Minister Sussan Ley in November over Adani's plans to harvest and store up to 12.5 gigalitres of water from the Suttor River for the mine.
Ms Ley's decision not to apply a water trigger, which can be used if a large mine is likely to have a significant impact on a water resource, was pursued in court by the Australian Conservation Foundation.
Justice Melissa Perry ruled in the favour of ACF, that a department delegate made an error of law by finding the harvesting and supply of water for decades was not integral to the conduct of mining operations at the Carmichael mine.
Senior CSU environment lecturer Dr Jonathon Howard welcomed the court's decision.
"Justice is blind and it should be - those things are actually related and the court ruled it that way," he said.
"If you're taking water from an upstream river, it always has an impact downstream.
"If you look at all all the swimming centres around Albury-Wodonga, the mine would be taking all the water out of all swimming facilities, every 10 minutes."
Dr Howard said this was the second time the Environment Minister's decisions over Adani's water scheme had been successfully challenged in court, with the government conceding in June, 2019, that it had failed to properly consider some of the thousands of public comments it received.
He said due process had to be followed in all water management, with The Australia Institute and Conservation SA releasing an analysis that 31 of the 34 projects proposed would have little or no prospect of genuine water recovery in the Murray Darling Basin.
"The report was called 1200 Bridges Too Far, because what the government's doing is spending all that money on a lot of bridges and a lot of things that don't actually produce all the savings, particularly in NSW," he said.
As a result of the Federal Court decision, Adani's plans will be sent back to the department to restart the approval process.
Adani said in a statement "construction on the Carmichael mine and rail project is well under way, and importantly, the North Galilee Water Scheme project is not required for these construction activities".
The pipeline application sought to take less than one per cent of the catchment's annual water flow, and only when the river was in flood, the company said.
The federal government and Adani were ordered to pay costs.
The ACF said it "re-affirmed the legitimacy of the 'water trigger' in Australia's environment law" and would set a new precedent for future large-scale projects.
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