EDO solicitor Sue Higginson.
EDO solicitor Sue Higginson.

Environmental Defenders Office funding axed by Abbott

THE Federal Government has axed $10 million in funding without warning funding for the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO).

The legal support organisation works with individuals and community groups by giving them free legal advice on environmental and planning laws relating to new building or mining developments, water issues, pollution, indigenous and heritage issues.

The EDO, which has an office in Lismore, has been involved in numerous legal matters on the Tweed.

EDO executive director Jeff said the move threated the existence of the organisation,

"This comes at a time when climate action in Australia is being dismantled, when the Great Barrier Reef faces unprecedented threats and when Canberra is intent on handing back environmental powers to the states and territories," Mr Smith said.

The EDOs have also run a number of landmark court cases for community groups across Australia including high profile cases against new coal mines, pollution of rivers by power stations, over development in residential areas and the potential impacts of coal seam gas developments on local water resources.

Court cases the EDO has run in the Tweed include the Tugun Cobaki Alliance v Minister for Planning - one of the very first challenges to a major project under part 3A of the Environment Protection Act (EPA) Act.

It challenged the approval of the Tugun Cobaki bypass on the basis of a failure to properly consider the environmental impact and species impact statements.

The proceedings were unsuccessful but highlighted the wide discretion given to the minister under the (now repealed) Part 3a of the Act.

Another case was for Hastings Point Progress Association Inc in two Land and Environment Court proceedings which challenged a development consent granted by Tweed Shire Council for a three storey housing development and a seniors living development in the coastal hamlet of Hastings Point on the Tweed Coast, contrary to the existing character of the hamlet.

The cases were heard together in the Land and Environment Court which disallowed the three storey housing development but allowed the senior living development.

The EDO has also provided assistance in relation to groups or individuals advocating around matters such as:

The Kings Forest and Cobaki Lakes developments;

The protection of Lot 490 at Kingscliff;

Protection of sensitive waterways from wakeboarding in the Tweed; and Protection of the Fingal Head environment

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