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Arid Lands Environment Centre will not appeal Singleton Supreme Court decision

Arid Lands Environment Centre will not appeal Singleton Supreme Court decision, but vows to fight on and stop Australia’s largest groundwater licence.

On 31 January 2024, the NT Supreme Court upheld the decision of the NT Minister for the Environment to grant the largest groundwater licences in Australia at Singleton Station.

Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) will not appeal the decision made by the Northern Territory Supreme Court. 

The risks attached to a Supreme Court appeal are too great for ALEC, a small but mighty community organisation and not-for-profit. 

We will keep fighting to stop the Singleton Station water licence. Our resources will be strategically focused on the Ali Curung Water Justice Project and the NT Environment Protection Authority’s (NTEPA) assessment of the project via the highest level of scrutiny - a Tier 3 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

It is incredibly important this licence does not go ahead. We will be squarely focusing on the devastating impacts of this development, which will lower the groundwater table by up to 50 metres, threaten up to 40 sacred sites and give away up to a trillion litres of water for free. 

ALEC understands that Native Title holders may appeal. It is in the interest of the entire Territory that this case is successful, that groundwater dependent trees, springs and soaks are protected, and that the importance of statutory water plans is upheld.

Quotes attributed to Adrian Tomlinson, ALEC CEO

“We will keep fighting for water justice! ALEC’s efforts will be focused outside of the courts, focusing on supporting the community and ensuring the devastating impacts are properly assessed by the NTEPA and scrutinised through the EIS process”

“The court’s decision does not greenlight this project overnight. Further approvals, including the environmental approval are needed and this project has a long way to go.  Singleton Station is the first horticultural project in the NT’s history to undergo a Tier 3 EIS. This process could take up to three years.”

“The impacts from this water licence and project overall are unprecedented. Groundwater dependent ecosystems, the oases of arid lands, will be damaged or destroyed across a vast area, about fifty kilometres in length.”

“This case involved the Northern Territory Government watering down its already deeply deficient water laws in court.  It will be scrutinised for many years to come. This is gravely embarrassing for the Northern Territory, a tragedy for our environment and questions the role of water allocation plans in water licensing in the Territory.” 

“Until the Territory Government sorts out its broken water laws, the best protection we have is to keep allocations to a minimum.”

“New water allocation plans are in development for Mataranka and the Western Davenport Water Control District, but they cannot be relied upon.  We need reduced water allocations given the impoverished state of our water laws.”

Quotes attributed to Barb Molanus, ALEC Chair

“This is the first time ALEC has ever gone to court and it is historic. ALEC will continue to advocate for water and for justice at Singleton station.” 

“ALEC thanks the Environmental Defenders Office who have provided excellent legal representation and all of our supporters. This is not the end. We will continue to work hard to stop this project!”

Media Contact: Alex Vaughan, ALEC Policy Officer, 0427 573 178

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