Walmadan Sovereign Embassy elder takes Woodside to court

Original elder Richard Hunter launched a case today claiming the gas hub approval process was not followed correctly by Woodside or the Shire of Broome at Walmadan (James Price Point) 60kms north of Broome, WA.

Mr Hunter's lawyer, Josie Walker, says if this can be proved, the entire approval process could be deemed invalid.

Meanwhile, despite considerable cultural, environmental, anthropological and community based objections, Woodsite contues to bulldoze sacred country.

Journalist Antony Lowenstein visited the remote location and reported that there were "signs of collusion between the West Australian police and private security forces against Indigenous owners and protestors opposed to the development." Furthermore, Lowenstein reported that he viewed "large amounts of footage detailing HES interrupting scientists gathering evidence of dinosaur tracks of the area".

Woodside in court over James Price Point works

ABC News May 28th 2012
Traditional land owners have taken Woodside to the Supreme Court to stop work at the site of the proposed Kimberley Gas Hub.

Woodside maintains it has the necessary approvals to access James Price Point north of Broome, where ground works began last week.

But Goolarabaloo man Richard Hunter launched a case today claiming the approval process was not followed correctly by Woodside or the Shire of Broome.

Mr Hunter's lawyer, Josie Walker, says if this can be proved, the entire approval process could be deemed invalid.

"The development assessment panels went ahead and decided to grant the approval at its very first meeting despite considerable objections," she said.

"We say the process was rushed and they also didn't comply with the notification requirements so it seems like their approval is not valid that they're relying on."

If the court rules in Mr Hunter's favour, Woodside could be ordered to stop work immediately.

Woodside says it does not comment on legal matters.

The company says it is finalising engineering, site investigation and environmental studies for the proposed development as the project approaches a final investment decision which is expected to be made in the first half of 2013.

Woodside's jack-up platform for worker's accommodation
situated close to Walmadan Sovereign Embassy (James Price Point)
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Aboriginal law man files action to halt Browse works

Rania Spooner WA Today May 28, 201

A Goolarabooloo man has launched legal proceedings against Australian oil and gas giant Woodside Petroleum in a bid to halt works at the controversial Kimberley site being considered for a $30 billion gas hub.

Woodside are finalising engineering, site investigation and environmental studies before making a decision on the proposed Browse hub, a Woodside spokeswoman said in a statement.

The Western Australia Environmental Defender's Office served Woodside and the Shire of Broome with papers today after filing action in the Supreme Court at Perth, on behalf of Richard Hunter, a traditional law man.

Mr Hunter has alleged that approvals granted in February were invalid because the Kimberley Joint Development Assessment Panel made the decision before receiving a significant report from the Shire of Broome.

The EDO claims the February approvals allow Woodside, the operator of the Browse joint venture, to undertake drilling at the dunes south of James Price point, which they claim are culturally sensitive.

The allegations follow historic survey reports commissioned by the WA Government in the early 1990s, which found a large area covering James Price Point does have a high degree of cultural significance, and should be off limits for exploration drilling.

"Our Song Cycle is living country," Mr Hunter said in an EDO statement. "We don't know what is going to happen if you dig this up, but we do know that it will be bad for our family."

The Woodside spokeswoman said the company had obtained the relevant approvals for current engineering and environmental studies, with all activities being "closely monitored by traditional owner representatives".

"The studies include heritage and environmental surveys, as well as studies of the subsurface geology at the Browse LNG Precinct," the spokeswoman said.

"Woodside is working closely with Traditional Owners to identify and carefully manage Aboriginal culture and heritage within the proposed LNG Precinct."

The EDO also claims environmentally sensitive areas are at risk from the current works.

EDO principal solicitor Josie Walker said the action has been brought under the WA Planning Act.

"We've said the planning approval was granted invalidly because there was no responsible authority report completed by the shire," she said.

"The responsible authority report is the council's summary of the application, their views on whether it should be approved or not...basically all the background information that the panel needs to make that decision."

Ms Walker said if EDO's application were successful it would mean Woodside has no approval for the current works at James Price Point.

"They would have to stop," she said. "We've asked Woodside to stop immediately."

At an investor briefing in Perth earlier today Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman said works were "all on track" for a final investment decision on the James Price Point proposal by mid-2013, but that "there are alternative options," for Browse.

He said the joint venture partners had originally considered three options including piping Browse gas down to the Burrup Peninsula, a floating LNG plant, and James Price Point, which was still considered "the best option".

But he said if James Price Point "doesn't work out" the company may go into a "recycle process" before exploring another option