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Second Supreme Court challenge to Woodside’s Scarborough development

The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) has launched a second Supreme Court challenge relating to the Scarborough gas proposal as pressure continues to build around the controversial fossil fuel development.

The council, which served papers on Tuesday, will challenge a decision by the WA government to issue a Works Approval for the expansion of the Pluto LNG development on the Burrup Peninsula to allow processing of gas from the Scarborough field.

The challenge is the second to be launched in the Supreme Court of WA, following an earlier challenge which will be heard in mid-December.

The Scarborough development has been widely criticised by campaigners as one of Australia’s most polluting fossil fuel proposals. Woodside CEO Meg O’Neill last week confirmed the development would emit a total of 1.6 billion tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of 15 coal-fired power stations over its lifetime.

CCWA – which is represented by the Environmental Defenders Office – will assert that the existing works approval for expansion of the Pluto facility, issued by the CEO of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER), was unlawful as it failed to properly consider and control the environmental harm generated by the development’s greenhouse gas emissions.

By bringing the case before the Supreme Court, CCWA is hoping to ensure that all sources of greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere are properly assessed by the WA government with respect to the environmental harm that they cause.

Tim Macknay, Managing Lawyer for the Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) said: “It is well established that any additional CO2 emissions take us further beyond what is considered acceptable for a safe climate.

“Any additional CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere increases the risk of bushfires, droughts, heatwaves and other climate-related phenomena which put communities at risk.

“That is why governments and regulators – such as the CEO of the WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation – should be doing everything in their power to properly assess and control any additional greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the risks of climate related extreme weather events to the Australian people.

“The CEO of DWER has a clear power and obligation to assess and control risks of environmental harm from highly polluting industry during the approvals process. The Conservation Council will argue that this did not happen and therefore the approval - which was granted by the CEO - is invalid.”

The expansion of the Pluto LNG processing facility on the Burrup Peninsula is a critical part of Woodside’s plans to unlock gas contained in the offshore Scarborough gas field. It would more than double the annual greenhouse gas emissions from the Pluto facility and extend the operating life of the facility by several decades.

Woodside has come under intense pressure from conservation and environmental groups in recent months, with a national campaign – Say No to Scarborough Gas – set up to halt progress on the proposal. The group, which includes counts the likes of Greenpeace, Market Forces, and the Australian Marine Conservation Society, has stepped up its campaign since Woodside announced it had reached final investment decision on Scarborough in late November.

Maggie Wood, Executive Director of the Conservation Council of WA, said: “Less than a month after world leaders gathered in Glasgow to work towards driving down emissions across the globe, Woodside has signed off on Australia’s most damaging fossil fuel proposal.

“The decision to press ahead with this highly controversial development shows that Woodside and its partner BHP are deaf to the voices of millions of ordinary Australians who want to see an end to fossil fuels and to get Australia’s emissions under control.”


MEDIA INFORMATION (CCWA): The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) is the state’s foremost non-profit, non-government conservation organisation representing more than 100 environmental organisations across Western Australia. 

For more information, visit:

CONTACT: For any enquiries relating to this release, please contact Robert Davies 

08 9420 7291 / 0412 272 570 or by email, [email protected]  

MEDIA INFORMATION (EDO): Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is the largest environmental legal centre in the Australia-Pacific, dedicated to protecting our climate, communities and shared environment by providing access to justice, running groundbreaking litigation and leading law reform advocacy.

For more information visit:

Can you chip in to help fund our legal challenge? We will continue to hold big polluters like Woodside to account in the courts, on the streets, and in the boardrooms because we cannot give up on our climate.


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