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Professor Penny Sackett permitted to give evidence in farmers' legal fight against Santos

The NSW Land and Environment Court has granted permission for a prominent climate scientist to provide evidence in a legal challenge to the Narrabri Gas Project.

Farmers belonging to the Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord (MGPA) group have brought proceedings seeking the Court’s review of the Independent Planning Commission’s decision to approve Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project.

Yesterday afternoon, Justice Pain ruled that the MGPA is permitted to lead evidence from former Australian Chief Scientist, Professor Penny Sackett, on issues relating to climate change.

The decision is significant because expert evidence is rarely permitted in a judicial review case such as this. 

Santos opposed the MGPA’s application on the basis that expert evidence was not required in the proceedings. 

The MGPA farmers, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office, are arguing the IPC did not assess the gasfield’s climate impacts in a way that was consistent with the law and failed to assess the impacts of an external pipeline which would be needed to transport the gas.

MGPA secretary Maddy Adams said, “We are extremely pleased Professor Penny Sackett’s expert testimony will be considered.

“Farmers are increasingly bearing the brunt of unpredictable and extreme climatic events.

“These extreme weather events are having a direct impact on our lives and livelihoods, and that’s why we believed it was so important that an esteemed expert like Professor Penny Sackett be able to provide evidence to the Court to support our legal arguments relating to climate change.”

If Santos’ 850-well gasfield goes ahead, it will be responsible for a total of nearly 130 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions - equivalent to roughly a quarter of Australia’s annual greenhouse emissions.

The Court will hold a further directions hearing on the matter this Friday (March 26) and the matter has been listed for final hearing for three days beginning 30 August 2021.

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