BORR ruling: Federal Court judge outlines reasons southern section legal bid failed

Jacinta CantatoreSouth Western Times
A Federal Court bid to stop construction of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road has failed, with clearing works set to resume on the $1.25b project within hours.
Camera IconA Federal Court bid to stop construction of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road has failed, with clearing works set to resume on the $1.25b project within hours. Credit: Jacinta Cantatore

A Federal Court judge has revealed the reasons he dismissed an application to stop land-clearing works on the Bunbury Outer Ring Road near Gelorup.

Justice Craig Colvin said he was “not satisfied” the application made by the Friends of the Gelorup Corridor “had sufficient legal merit” to allow the court to halt construction on the southern arm of the $1.25b project.

On August 9, Federal Court judge Justice Craig Colvin dismissed the application to stop work on the project, which had been made by local environmental lobby group The Friends of the Gelorup Corridor group.

The decision meant the clearing work, which began on the southern section of the BORR on August 8, can proceed while the case proceeds through the court.

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The application made by the FOTGC outlined four claims that rested on statutory conditions within the Environmental Protection Act, and on whether the decision makers had the authority to grant approvals for the BORR to go ahead.

More specifically, the FOTGC claimed the delegate of the Environmental Minister who made the final approval for the southern section on July 28 had not been delegated the authority to approve the plans.

In his decision to reject the application, Justice Colvin said rulings of this kind were “difficult”.

“Cases of this kind are difficult because of the competing priorities and considerations that are at stake and the need to address important matters urgently. However, the orders sought can only be granted if there is sufficient legal merit in the legal arguments advanced,” Justice Colvin said in his official reasons for rejecting the application.

“In all the circumstances, I was not satisfied that the contentions advanced to support the application had sufficient legal merit to support the grant of the relief sought in all the circumstances. It followed that the application must be dismissed.”

On August 5, a Friday afternoon, Justice Colvin had granted an injunction to stop clearing of native vegetation on the southern arm of the BORR near Gelorup until the environmental arguments against the BORR could be heard.

At the hearing on Monday August 8, Justice Colvin extended the injunction for 24 hours until more arguments would be heard on Tuesday morning.

The matter was dismissed on August 9 after arguments from the State and Federal lawyers.

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