Showing posts with label environmental vandalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label environmental vandalism. Show all posts

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Morrison Government's newly appointed “Special Envoy” for the Great Barrier Reef is in favour of large scale land clearing on the reef's doorstep


This is the newly appointed “Special Envoy” for the Great Barrier Reef, Liberal MP for Leichhardt Warren Entsch…..


Coalition MP Warren Entsch has backed a plan to bulldoze 2000 hectares of pristine forest near the Great Barrier Reef despite being appointed to a role championing the natural marine wonder.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison appointed the veteran Liberal MP, who represents the seat of Leichhardt in north Queensland, as special envoy to the Great Barrier Reef in last month’s ministerial reshuffle.

Mr Entsch once owned Olive Vale station, a large Cape York farm north-west of Cairns, and has been a vocal proponent of land clearing on farming properties in north Queensland. Land clearing can create sediment and nutrient run-off and is the main driver of serious water quality problems on the Great Barrier Reef.

Liberal MP Warren Entsch is a strong advocate of land clearing, despite the possible effects on the Great Barrier Reef's water quality.

In particular, Mr Entsch lobbied his government on behalf of a highly contentious proposal to clear 2000 hectares of forest at Kingvale Station on Cape York Peninsula.

The land drains into two rivers that run into the Great Barrier Reef 200 kilometres downstream. Government-commissioned experts have warned that soil erosion from the work is likely to damage the reef.

Mr Entsch told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that despite his new responsibilities, the Kingvale land-clearing proposal had his “total support”.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with my role [as reef envoy],” he said…..

New Environment Minister Sussan Ley will decide on the Kingvale plan, which is being assessed under Commonwealth laws.

This is what Mr. Entsch is determined to ignore……

The relationship between the position of Kingvale Station in a river catchment which discharges water into the Great Barrier Reef at a point where the reef is under stress from multiple coral bleaching events.
Normanby Catchment in Far North Queensland
Kingvale Station approximate position maked in red

Map found at Great Barrier Reef Foundation
Warren Entsch cannot be ignorant of this relationship, as Kingvale Station is in the federal electorate he has held for the last twenty-three years.

A suspicious person might wonder if Mr. Entsch was one of the government MPs who allegedly 'lobbied' departmental staff on the matter of Kingvale Station land clearing consent in the past,

Such a mind might also ponder the proposition that he was made Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef in order to assist in subverting attempts to stop landclearing so close to this World Heritage listed marine area.

BACKGROUND

ABC News, 22 May 2018:

The Queensland Government has launched legal action against the owner of a Cape York cattle station at the centre of a land-clearing controversy for allegedly breaching an obligation to care for Indigenous heritage.

The owner of Kingvale Station on the Cape York Peninsula legally cleared 500 hectares of land before the Federal Government intervened in 2016, over internal concerns about the effect on sediment run-off into the Great Barrier Reef.

The traditional owners of the land, the Olkola people, claim the owner of Kingvale Station went ahead with the clearing without their knowledge and may have destroyed a burial site.

The ABC can reveal the Queensland Department of Environment and Science is taking court action as a result of an investigation which started as early as 2016, when the Olkola people complained to the Government that they believed Kingvale Station may be in breach of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 November 2018:

The Morrison government has conceded it botched scrutiny of a plan to bulldoze 2000 hectares of pristine Queensland forest near the Great Barrier Reef and has been forced back to the drawing board following a legal challenge by conservationists.

The development comes as confidential documents show government MPs lobbied environmental officials to wave through the proposal, which would raze land almost three times the size of the combined central business districts of Sydney and Melbourne.

As Fairfax Media reported in May, the Department of the Environment and Energy in a draft report recommended that the government allow the mass vegetation clearing at Kingvale Station on Cape York Peninsula.

The finding, which prompted public outrage, came despite the department conceding the native forest was likely to contain endangered species, and despite expert warnings that runoff caused by the clearing may damage the Great Barrier Reef.

Environmental Defenders Office NSW (EDO NSW), media release, 27 November 2018: 

In a case demonstrating the critical role community organisations play in holding elected officials to account,  the Federal Court has upheld a challenge by the Environment Council of Central Queensland (ECOCeQ) – represented by EDO NSW – to a proposal to clear 2,100 ha of native vegetation on Kingvale Station on the Cape York Peninsula in the Great Barrier Reef catchment.

Early in 2018, the Federal Minister for the Environment decided that the proposed clearing could undergo the least rigorous form of environmental assessment available under Commonwealth environmental law.  The Minister was required, among other things, to be satisfied that the degree of public concern about the action is, or is expected to be, ‘moderately low’.

The Minister has now conceded that decision was not made lawfully. 

ENVISAT satellite image of the Great Barrier Reef alongside the York Peninsula.

“The Act deliberately applies a strict test that must be satisfied before the Minister can opt for the least rigorous assessment,” David Morris, CEO of EDO NSW, stated.
The Government’s own experts found that the proposed clearing would have a significant impact on the Great Barrier Reef and a number of threatened species.

The Minister must now go back to the drawing board to decide afresh how the environmental impacts of the proposal will be assessed. Steps that have been completed since the Minister made the original assessment decision are now void, including the Secretary’s draft recommendation report that was published online for comment in April 2018.

What follows next will depend on the assessment methodology selected by the Minister. Whichever approach is selected, there will be further opportunity for the public to comment on the proposed clearing.

Christine Carlisle, President of ECOCeQ, said ‘We hope the Minister rejects the tree clearing proposal outright, since it will destroy habitat for threatened species, the bulldozing of the forest will contribute to climate change, and there can be no guarantee that sediment run-off from this huge area will not make its way into Princess Charlotte Bay and then on to the Reef.’  

‘We trust that the Minister for the Environment will act in the best interest of the environment, and not rubber stamp this dangerous proposal. The Minister received 6,000 public comments when this clearing was first proposed, and I hope the public responds again to ensure this proposal is not approved at any level,’ she said.

This case illustrates yet again the value of the extended standing provisions in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Without community groups like ECoCeQ, and lawyers to represent them, this unlawful decision would have proceeded without scrutiny and key safeguards for our environment ignored.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

The weather is slowly getting colder, but before minds turn to the thought of glowing fire in the hearth remember this....



Sitting before a glowing fire on a cold winter's night is something many people have done at some point in their lives.

However, this has fast become a luxury we as a society can no longer afford.

Because now when we go firewood gathering, sadly we are often taking the last remaining homes in that locality of Australian hollow nesting native birds, small marsupials, reptiles, frogs & insects.

Other things to remember about firewood gathering.......

Fines apply for removing fallen timber or trees from national parks or nature reserves.
Collecting wood from Travelling Stock Reserves is illegal in New South Wales and you can be fined if caught.

If you'd like to collect firewood for personal use from a state forest within NSW you need to apply for a permit and any timber taken must be paid for in advance.

Firewood permits are available online from the Forestry Corporation of NSW at: www.forestrycorporation.com.au/about/permits.  These permits only allow the collection of fallen timber and fines apply if rules are broken.

Removing fallen timber from roadside reserves is prohibited by many councils, so please check with your local council before considering collecting firewood from these areas.


Clearing of native vegetation on rural land is legislated by the Local Land Services Act 2013external link and the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016external link

Clearing of native vegetation in urban areas and land zoned for environmental protection is legislated by the NSW Vegetation SEPPexternal link.

Please report suspected unlawful native vegetation clearing to OEH. 
You can contact Environment Line on 131 555 or send an email to info@environment.nsw.gov.au.

Illegal activity can also be reported to Local Land Services on 1300 795 299 or by contacting your local police station.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Bad 4WD behaviour causing significant damage to the South Ballina Beach and its ecology



South Ballina Beach. Photo Ballina Beach Village in Echo NetDaily, 27 November 2018

The Northern Star, 25 May 2019, p.9:

Poor behaviour from some 4WD users have attracted the ire of Ballina Shire Council once again.

Councillor Sharon Cadwallader brought a motion before Thursday’s general meeting to further consult on what could be done to address the issue of some 4WDers putting wildlife and the dunes at risk on South Ballina and Seven Mile Beaches.

Richard Gates, who spoke to the council in support of the motion, said bad 4WD behaviour was causing “significant damage to the beach and its ecology”, evident in declining pied oystercatcher and pippie numbers. Cr Cadwallader welcomed extra patrols planned for both beaches next financial year, but said that wasn’t enough and suggested a permit system be added to South Ballina Beach, similar to the permit for Seven Mile Beach.

Councillors agreed the matter was complex in that the National Parks and Wildlife Service had care of South Ballina’s beach, and that a co-ordinated approach would be needed with the Richmond Valley Council to cover the entire beach to Evans Head.

“There’s got to be a concerted effort,” Cr Cadwallader said.
“We’re not just going to sit by and watch this beautiful beach of ours become desecrated.”

She showed her fellow councillors photos, taken on the weekend, of the southern beach trashed with rubbish including dumped tents and camping chairs.

Other images showed the dunes at Seven Mile Beach riddled with tyre marks.

Cr Ben Smith said the State Government was “very much aware” of the dilemma and pointed out it “didn’t really get much traction” in the lead up to the March state election, despite noise from the council.

Many councillors saw the need for action and Cr Cadwallader’s motion was carried unanimously.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Coal Seam Gas: Queensland supplies a timely lesson for the rest of Australia


ABC News, 26 May 2016:

The risk of spreading toxic groundwater from one of Queensland's worst environmental contaminations has prompted a ban on coal seam gas drilling in an area where companies are already extracting gas.

The State Government quietly created a no-go zone for gas extraction 10 kilometres around the former Linc Energy site in the Southern Inland, at Hopeland, burying the decision in an environmental approval issued to Arrow Energy in December.

Despite the ban, Arrow and QGC still have permission to extract gas within the zone.

On a separate, neighbouring mining lease — approved in August — Arrow gained approval to ramp up six existing "pilot" wells for commercial production.

Farmers said they were alarmed by the revelation and want state officials to come clean about the risks of groundwater contamination spreading under prime grazing and cropping land.

The ban is the first public admission that a burgeoning CSG industry could aggravate the Linc contamination, where toxic gases were released into groundwater by a now-illegal process called underground coal gasification.

Cotton grower Brian Bender's Hopeland property is split by the two Arrow tenements — where CSG extraction is banned on one side but not the other.

"I think it's a bit of a joke, really — there are no lines underground," Mr Bender said….

The ABC understands tests on groundwater contamination were being examined by a trio of experts who would be called as state witnesses in a criminal prosecution of five former Linc executives next month.

The failed company was convicted and fined a record $4.5 million last May for causing serious environmental harm through its underground coal gasification (UCG) plant.

The District Court heard in that trial that it could take up to 20 years for groundwater to recover from Linc's attempts at the now-illegal UCG process, which allowed toxic gases to escape through fractured rock.

At the time, the state's then-environment minister described the contamination as "the biggest pollution event probably in Queensland's history".

A week before Christmas, Arrow gained approval for 70 wells on a gas tenement to the north-east of the former Linc site.

It is part of its $10 billion Surat Gas Project, which Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk promoted in a February media release as Queensland's "biggest resources project since 2011".

Ms Palaszczuk's release made no mention of the gas extraction no-go zone.

But the state's Department of Environment and Science approval said Arrow "must not locate any [CSG] production wells within 10 kilometres [of the Linc site]".

"The extraction of groundwater as part of the petroleum activity(ies) from underground aquifers must not directly or indirectly influence the mobilisation of existing groundwater contamination on [the Linc site]," the environmental authority said.

It said the department may force Arrow to model CSG impacts on "groundwater contamination around [the Linc site] at any time" and present its findings within a month.

But there were no such conditions for gas drilling in the neighbouring Arrow tenement that surrounds the former Linc site, where six wells were approved in August…..

But will the Morrison federal government or the remaining seven state and territory governments learn from Queensland's disasterous mistakes?

Apparently not.........

2GB Radio, 24 May 2019:

The Minister for Resources is urging the New South Wales government to approve the state’s biggest gas project.

Santos Narrabri Gas Project is aiming to develop gas reserves in northwest New South Wales that could supply half of the state’s gas needs.

The Resources Minister Matt Canavan tells Ray Hadley almost all of NSW’s gas comes from other states.

“The problem with that is, of course, it costs a lot of money to transport gas long distances, so that has pushed the price up for Sydney based users of gas.

“Things have changed and we need to reflect that.”

The Canberra Times, 18 April 2019:

Federal Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan was in Darwin on April 17 to publicise an April 2 federal budget announcement of $8.4 million in funding to fast-track development of gas reserves in the Northern Territory's Beetaloo Basin.

"We want to get on with the job. We want to get the gas up out of the ground and into people's homes and businesses as quickly as we can," Senator Canavan said in a statement….

The Beetaloo Basin is about 500km south-east of Darwin in the Sturt Plateau region between the towns of Katherine and Elliott and includes pastoral land and indigenous communities. Around 70 per cent of the Territory's shale gas resources are estimated to lie in the Beetaloo Basin, reserves that could potentially raise Australia's global ranking of gas resources from seventh to sixth. Farmers, businesses and industry are divided over whether fracking should be permitted because of the risk of pollution to rivers and bores. Pro-fracking advocates argue it will be a boon for jobs and economic growth.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

First global assessment of the ecological health of the world's "wild" rivers has found only about one third of the longest rivers are still free-flowing


As the Queensland flood waters finally make it down the Dimantina and Georgina rivers and Cooper's Creek and spread out over the Eyre Basin and into Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, it is well to remember three things.

The first is that; The Lake Eyre Basin is one of the largest and most pristine desert river systems on the planet, supporting 60,000 people and a wealth of wildlife.

The second is the fact that the Morrison Government has a stated policy to dam and divert more water from Australia's river systems if it is re-elected. 

The third is that water sustainability into the future is dependent on wild rivers running free.

ABC Radio,“RN”, 9 May 2019:

The first global assessment of the ecological health of the world's "wild" rivers has found only about one third of the longest rivers are still free-flowing.

The report warns the disruption is harming ecosystems, with 3,700 new large dams either under construction, or planned.


Nature, 8 May 2019:

Gill,Gunter et al, (2019) Mapping the world’s free-flowing rivers

ABSTRACT

Free-flowing rivers (FFRs) support diverse, complex and dynamic ecosystems globally, providing important societal and economic services. Infrastructure development threatens the ecosystem processes, biodiversity and services that these rivers support. Here we assess the connectivity status of 12 million kilometres of rivers globally and identify those that remain free-flowing in their entire length. Only 37 per cent of rivers longer than 1,000 kilometres remain free-flowing over their entire length and 23 per cent flow uninterrupted to the ocean. Very long FFRs are largely restricted to remote regions of the Arctic and of the Amazon and Congo basins. In densely populated areas only few very long rivers remain free-flowing, such as the Irrawaddy and Salween. Dams and reservoirs and their up- and downstream propagation of fragmentation and flow regulation are the leading contributors to the loss of river connectivity. By applying a new method to quantify riverine connectivity and map FFRs, we provide a foundation for concerted global and national strategies to maintain or restore them.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Australia cannot afford a third term Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government


The continuous prevarication and callous disregard for any policy which might provide a sustainable future for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren makes the Liberal and National political parties a danger to us all.........

The Guardian, 9 May 2019:

Scott Morrison’s office has declined to say what legislation he was referring to when he said he had “been taking action” on a landmark UN report about the extinction of a million different species.

On Monday, the UN released a comprehensive, multi-year report that revealed human society was under threat from the unprecedented extinction of the Earth’s animals and plants. The agriculture minister, David Littleproud, said the report “scared him”, during a debate on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Morrison responded to the report saying: “We already introduced and passed legislation through the Senate actually dealing with that very issue in the last week of the parliament. We’ve been taking action on that.”

However, no legislation regarding animal conservation or the environment passed in the last week of parliament.

When asked what the legislation was, the prime minister’s office did not reply. The office of the environment minister, Melissa Price, also did not respond when asked what legislation Morrison was referring to.

The only legislation regarding animals that passed within the last few months is the Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017, which set new regulations on testing cosmetics on animals.

However, it was passed by both houses on 18 February – not in the last week of parliament, which was in April.

Neither the prime minister nor the environment minister responded to clarify if this was the bill Morrison was referring to, or whether he made an error.

Tim Beshara, the federal policy director of the Wilderness Society, said Morrison appeared to have “alluded to a bill that doesn’t exist”.

 “The last bill to pass the Senate from the environment portfolio was about changing the board structure of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in 2018,” he said.
“It looks like the prime minister of Australia is so desperate to move the debate off the environment as an issue that he has alluded to a bill that doesn’t exist so that journalists would stop asking questions about it.”…..

On Wednesday, Morrison also railed against the expansion of environmental regulations, calling them “green tape”.


“[Labor] want to hypercharge an environment protection authority which will basically interfere and seek to slow down and prevent projects all around the country,” he said.

Beshara said the timing of this with the mass extinction report showed “excellent comedic timing”.

“What he is calling ‘green tape’, most Australians would call basic environmental protections,” he said. “I don’t expect the prime minister to know their numbats from their bandicoots, but I do expect them to know what bills their government has passed, and to respond to a globally significant UN report like this with the seriousness it deserves.”

The Guardian, 9 May 2019:

Most clearing of Australian habitat relied on by threatened species is concentrated in just 12 federal electorates, nine of which are held by the Coalition, an analysis has found.

University of Queensland scientists found more than 90% of the threatened species habitat lost since the turn of the century has been in six electorates in Queensland, two each in NSW and Western Australia and one in Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Most of the land-clearing in Queensland has been to create pasture.

The study, commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation, was released following a United Nations global assessment that found biodiversity is being lost at an unprecedented rate, with one million species at risk of extinction. The report warns the decline in native life could have implications for human populations across the globe.

Threatened species habitat loss, by federal electorates
Showing the percentage of habitat loss used by threatened species

Source: ACF





The research found the greatest loss of threatened species habitat had been in the agriculture minister David Littleproud’s electorate of Maranoa, in southern Queensland. Nearly two million hectares, or 43%, has been cleared since 2000, when the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act was introduced. Among the 85 threatened species affected are the koala, the greater bilby, the black-throated finch and the long-nosed potoroo.

Maranoa is followed on the list by Kennedy, home to the maverick independent Bob Katter, the Liberal Rick Wilson’s Western Australian seat of O’Connor and Capricornia, a marginal electorate held by the LNP’s Michelle Landry.

The environment minister Melissa Price’s vast electorate of Durack, which covers nearly two-thirds of Western Australia, is seventh, with more than 300,000 hectares lost.

Other seats on the list are Flynn, Parkes, Leichhardt, Lingiari, Farrer, Dawson and Lyons.

James Watson, the director of the university’s centre for biodiversity and conservation science, said Australia was sleep-walking through a worsening extinction crisis.

“These results show the laws we have to protect our wonderful natural heritage are not working and that is a significant failure of government,” he said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s nature policy analyst, James Trezise, said the next Australian government must invest in the recovery of threatened species and introduce strong environment laws overseen by an independent national regulator if it was serious about reversing the decline in native wildlife…..

Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world over the past 200 years. It is considered one of 17 “megadiverse” countries, which share just 10% of global land but 70% of biological diversity. A green group study found funding to the national environment budget has been reduced by a third since the Coalition was elected.

Habitat loss on the NSW North Coast

Richmond electorate held by Labor MP Justine Elliot - 710 ha loss
Page electorate held by Nats MP Kevin Hogan - 16,725 ha loss
Cowper electorate held by Nats MP Luke Hartsuyker until April 2019 - 5,159 ha loss
Lyne electorate held by Nats MP David Gillespie - 6,181 ha loss

Friday, 26 April 2019

"Stop Adani" convoy gets good reception as it passes through the NSW Northern Rivers region


Supporters at Ferry Park, Maclean, on Pacific Highway heading north
Photo: The Daily Examiner online

The Daily Examiner
, 22 April 2019, p.4:

Protesters came out in support of the anti-Adani convoy as it made its way through the Clarence Valley yesterday.

Up to 180 cars, many of them electric, decorated in “Stop Adani” paraphernalia made their way along the Pacific Highway as part of a two-week campaign, organised by conservationist Bob Brown, to stop the proposed Carmichael coal mine.

Karen von Ahlefeldt said many in the convoy stopped for a chat and were “boosted” by the show of support.

“A lot of people standing there wished they could be on the convoy, this was a good chance for them to be part of it,” Ms von Ahlefeldt said.

Clarence Valley Councillor and Greens party member Greg Clancy stood at South Grafton waving on the cars as they made their way north.

“Politicians are not listening, and some of the public don’t understand,” Cr Clancy said.

“They think it is jobs, we need coal, but we don’t, we are phasing it out. Coal is not the future, it is the past.”

He said it was unthinkable to “dig up more of the Galilee Basin” and the proposed coal mine would be “contributing to climate change”.

Cr Clancy said movements such as the convoy were important steps to making change.

“Bob Brown has said this is going to be another Franklin River issue,” he said.
“People are not going to stand by. There will be protests, there will be arrests, it will be big.”

“You just have to look at how many vehicles have gone past today to know it’s going to be big.”

Mr Clancy called on politicians to commit to oppose the Queensland mine ahead of the federal election next month.

Friday, 19 April 2019

In the face of grave concerns Morrison Government pushes through Adani mining consent ahead of the 18 May general election, CSIRO rolls over & Geoscience lets the cat out of the bag


The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) attempts to avoid embarrassing the Morrison Coalition Government on the day it announced a federal election date:

CSIRO Statement, 11 April 2019:

In late 2018 and early 2019 CSIRO and Geoscience Australia wrote two reports for the Federal Government on specific questions on groundwater monitoring, management and modelling planned by Adani Pty Ltd for its Carmichael mine proposal in central Queensland.

This advice was limited to answering discrete inquiries on whether elements of Adani's proposed plans would be adequate to protect nationally significant environmental assets.
CSIRO identified inadequacies in the plans and was subsequently asked to review Adani's response to the recommendations CSIRO made to address the issues raised, as summarised by the Department of the Environment and Energy. Adani had committed to address the modelling limitations identified by the CSIRO and GA review in a groundwater model re-run to be undertaken within two years.
CSIRO considered that this commitment satisfied its recommendations, while also acknowledging there were still some issues that need to be addressed in future approvals, particularly confirming the source of the ecologically-important Doongmabulla Springs.
CSIRO has provided robust, peer-reviewed science on specific groundwater modelling-related questions about the plans. CSIRO's role is to provide scientific advice to inform approval processes, but it does not have any role in making approval decisions.

The public broadcaster reports in greater detail and with less reticence when detailing facts of the matter…….

ABC News, 18 April 2019:

Handwritten documents obtained by the ABC appear to directly contradict the Environment Minister Melissa Price that Adani "accepted in full" changes sought by scientists to limit the impact of its controversial Queensland coal mine.

Announcing her decision to approve Adani's water management plans for its Carmichael mine earlier this month, Ms Price said Adani "accepted in full" advice from the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also maintained the Government would "make all decisions based on the expert advice from ... Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO".
"We have always been following the advice of the scientists and we'll continue to do that," he said.

The advice was provided in a damning review in February of the company's plans.
But documents provided to the ABC showed Adani refused to accept key scientific findings and recommendations about its water management plans.

The ABC has obtained notes taken by three attendees of a phone hook up on April 5 involving senior officials from the Department of Environment and Energy and staff from Geoscience Australia.

The documents show the government science agency was concerned the water plans could allow Adani's mine to breach the conditions of its environment approval.

However, Adani would not accept the need for corrective action if that occurred.

The notes said that Adani refused to:
  • acknowledge the scientists' key finding that the model Adani used to estimate the mine's impacts was not fit for purpose;
  • accept that a new model could show that the mine's impacts would breach environmental approvals; and
  • commit to corrective action if the new model showed greater impacts on the environment than Adani had claimed would occur.
A separate briefing note from the Department of Environment and Energy shows Adani also refused to consider scaling back its mining operation to minimise its impacts, despite being asked to do so.

The ABC requested the meeting notes under freedom of information (FOI) laws, but Geoscience Australia took the unusual step of releasing the documents immediately instead.

The briefing happened after the Department of Environment and Energy had already advised the Minister to approve the plans, which had been finalised the previous month.

One set of notes was taken by Geoscience Australia chief Dr James Johnson, another by head of environmental geoscience Dr Stuart Minchin, and the third by senior executive Dr Richard Blewett.

A handwritten note by Dr Blewett mentions concerns held by Jane Coram, the head of CSIRO's land and water division.

She complained the science agencies had "not seen the revised plan" set to be approved, and that they were expected to take the summary of it at "face value".

After the meeting, Ms Price published a statement announcing, "Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO have provided written assurances that these steps address their recommendations."

A spokesman for Ms Price said she was not present at the meeting.

"Decisions were made between the department officers, Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO on the proper scientific assessment of the issues and no other factor," the spokesman said.

But the notes show the scientific agencies were asked by the Minister's department to give formal assurances that Adani's commitments met their concerns in language acceptable to the Government.

"Gov[ernment] is keen for assurance," the notes taken by CEO of Geoscience Australia, James Johnson said.

"Ideal for gov[ernment]: letter from me to [Mr Finn Pratt] saying based on extensive briefing from [Department of Environment and Energy] on Adani addresses the concerns raised."

Fin Pratt is the head of the Department of Environment and Energy.

In his handwritten notes of the meeting, Mr Johnson said the Government was keen for an assurance "based on discussion briefing" from the department, but he scribbled that out and changed it to "based on extensive briefing".

The Minister subsequently published a letter from Mr Johnson to Mr Pratt saying: "Thank you for the extensive briefing ... Based on this briefing Geoscience Australia is of the view that Adani have addressed the issues and concerns raised in our recommendations."

Ms Price's spokesman told the ABC no pressure was placed on the science agencies.

"Any suggestion of pressure in that process is rejected in the strongest possible terms and is insulting to the integrity of the experts concerned," he said.

Adani said in a statement it could not comment on the content of the documents.

"Adani was not privy to internal briefing documents or discussions that the Federal Department of Environment and Energy may have provided to Geoscience Australia and CSIRO, consequently we are unable to comment as to their contents."

'Advice to Adani that they refused'

The briefing notes listed in point form the "advice to Adani that they refused".

These included a recommendation Adani acknowledge their modelling "is not fit for purpose" and that a "new model could revise impacts [to be] greater than [what] has been approved".

"So told Adani — if new model shows greater impact than current model, they have to sort it out [with] corrective [actions]", the notes said.

"They refused."

Before the verbal briefing to Geoscience Australia, the Department Environment and Energy prepared a summary of Adani's response to concerns raised by Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO, which was provided to the two agencies.

The summary was published by the Department of Environment and Energy.

That document shows Adani declined to commit to a reduced mine plan, or to cutting back coal extraction, as suggested by the Department Environment and Energy in response to the damning report on its groundwater management model and plans by Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO.

It also shows Adani negotiated compromise outcomes in response to some of the scientists' concerns and rejected other measures that the two agencies sought.

There were gaps between what was included in that document and what was apparently outlined in the verbal briefing to Geoscience Australia staff.

The notes of the verbal briefing the department gave to the scientists said that Adani committed to a "maximum timetable of three months" for conducting an investigation if water use limits were triggered — a demand of both CSIRO and Geoscience Australia.

In fact, the response Adani formally agreed to is less watertight: "If the groundwater level thresholds exceedance is because of authorised mining activities, the investigation will be prioritised and, depending on the nature of the impact, completed within three months."

Adani told the ABC it was not provided directly with the advice by CSIRO and Geoscience Australia until after the Government approved the plans. Instead it responded to summaries made by the Department of Environment and Energy.

Minister faced intense pressure to approve mine

Ms Price faced intense pressure from her own side of politics to approve Adani's water management plans before the federal election was called.

Queensland LNP Senator James McGrath warned he would publicly call for Ms Price's resignation unless she did the "right thing" by Adani, and Queensland's LNP executive condemned what it called her "delay" in approval.

In the wake of the Federal Government's sign-off on the water management plans, Adani is pressing the Queensland Government to complete a series of other, state-based approvals that are needed before mining can commence.

When Ms Price announced that she had approved the water management plans — just one working day after CSIRO and Geoscience Australia were briefed on Adani's responses to their concerns — the Environment Minister said:
"I have accepted the scientific advice and therefore approved the groundwater management plans for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
"Both CSIRO and Geoscience Australia have confirmed the revised plans meet strict scientific requirements."

The Queensland Government is yet to approve construction as it seeks to protect a colony of black-throated finches around the mine site.

Even if construction is fully signed off, the project still requires more approvals to be granted from the Queensland and Commonwealth governments before coal can be dug out of the ground.

In an official statement to the ABC, a spokesperson for Geoscience Australia said it stood by their earlier statement that Adani's actions addressed the concerns raised in their technical advice.

"Adani did not acknowledge our advice that their groundwater model was not fit for purpose, and indicated they would not revise the model in the short term," the spokesperson said.

They said despite that, additional monitoring and mitigation Adani did agree to do satisfied their concerns.

Geoscience Australia said it was not pressured to provide the Government assurance.

The United Nations has taken a position on Adani Group mining consents after the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council put their case to this international body last year and, it has asked the Australian Government not to proceed with granting consents until after the High Court appeal by this traditional owners group is heard in May 2019

A request the Morrison Government saw fit to ignore.