In a shocking move, HRL Ltd, the company behind the new polluting power station, is making a legal challenge against Environment Victoria’s rights to stand up for our environment in the courts.
HRL’s lawyers are arguing that Environment Victoria shouldn’t be allowed to appeal to VCAT against the EPA’s decision. They also challenged the legal standing of community climate group LIVE, Doctor’s for the Environment Australia, and a Brunswick based individual.
Trying to have environmentalists and doctors struck out of the proceedings before they’ve even begun raises a very serious question – why is HRL trying to avoid scrutiny of their project? What have they got to hide?
More broadly, the challenge against the right of environmental groups to stand up for our environment is a very serious one.
Environmental groups have defended our communities and environment against air, land and water pollution for decades. With the support of the community, they’ve protected forests, rivers, marine life, and endangered plants and animals. The efforts of environmental organisations have led to the creation of National Parks, preserved valuable tourist destinations, and resulted in new laws to better protect our environment.
In our case, Environment Victoria has been standing up for Victoria’s environment for over 40 years. Many of the benefits we enjoy today as Victorians – clean water, clear air, a wonderful natural environment – is thanks in part to the work of our staff, members and supporters over four decades of campaigning.
Without environment groups taking action through the courts some of our most precious places would have been lost. To give just a couple of examples, Fraser Island would have been lost to sand mining, and would never have become a World Heritage site, while the forests of Brown Mountain in East Gippsland would have been logged, destroying habitat for the endangered Long-Footed Potoroo.
Our right to stand up for our environment, is fundamental to the development of Victoria towards a sustainable and prosperous future.