The Northern Territory government is facing two separate lawsuits over a land clearing permit its critics say could damage important habitats and jeopardise sacred Indigenous sites.
In November 2022, the Pastoral Land Board provided a permit for clearing of about 900 hectares on Auvergne Station, south-west of Darwin near the Western Australian border.
The land will predominantly be used for cattle grazing and fodder, but land clearing documents show about 250 hectares of that land is intended for a cotton growing trial.
The Environment Centre NT is seeking to have the permit revoked, saying that clearing land to grow cotton is not allowed under the type of permit that was granted.
“Right now, land clearing is skyrocketing in the Northern Territory, spurred in part by the cotton industry’s huge expansion plans. Land clearing is the biggest threat to biodiversity in Australia, and clearing for cotton will decimate local wildlife, impact rivers and add to greenhouse gas emissions.”ECNT director Kirsty Howey
The Northern Land Council is also launching legal action against the clearing. It says the rights of native title-holders were overlooked in the decision-making process, and is concerned that sacred sites are being put at risk by land clearing, claiming the land board doesn’t require applicants to obtain sacred site clearances.
“The land that is being cleared across the Northern Territory is not forgotten land that no one cares about. It belongs to Aboriginal people. There are legal rights over that land that must be respected.”Northern Land Council Chief executive Joe Martin-Jard