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
cotton, cotton industry, environment, floodplainharvesting, land clearing, murraydarlingbasin, NT Government, Territory rivers, Victoria River, waterextraction
Last week, Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek released the 2021 State of the Environment Report – detailing the poor and deteriorating health of Australia’s natural environment.
If we’ve learned anything from this report, it’s that Territorians like yourself have a unique opportunity to ensure our rivers and environment prosper into the future. But it’s going to take all of us working together to do more.
Nature in Australia is under more pressure than ever – and our rivers, heritage and native species are seriously suffering. It’s also a dire warning that the greatest threat facing rivers is the extraction of surface water and groundwater.
|Here are some key findings from the report:|
|These results are shocking and make it very clear that we need to protect our Territory rivers such as the Daly, Roper, Adelaide and Victoria from big irrigation projects.|
We’re expecting very soon to see the NT Government release details of a dangerous plan that would open up our rivers and floodplains to the same cotton industry players from the dying Murray Darling – putting our Territory fishing, tourism and lifestyle at risk. If this plan goes ahead, it will lead to a rush of new dams on creeks and more water being taken from our rivers.
This report is the wake up call that those in power in Darwin need to listen to – it’s a clear message from experts that it’s now or never.
Tell the NT Government to protect our rivers and floodplains.
The Northern Territory is home to special, healthy, free-flowing rivers. We’ve seen the damage done to the Murray Darling, but it’s not too late to protect our Territory rivers.
Let’s keep our rivers flowing.
adelaide river, Daly River, roper, roper river, Victoria River
Two weeks ago, I contacted you about a big cotton project pushing ahead just outside of Katherine. This industrial-scale facility is the first step towards a large-scale cotton industry which could devastate our Territory rivers.
Well, now it looks like it’s even worse – and so far nothing has been done to stop it.
Satellite imagery showed us last week that land clearing was already underway just outside Katherine, for a massive cotton gin at Tarwoo Station – before the government had even assessed the planning application!
Today, updated satellite images have revealed even more land has been cleared – almost three hectares!
|We will be making a formal complaint to the NT Government, urging them to investigate. But we need your help to convince them to act.|
We need strong voices now. It’s critical that the full environmental impact of the proposed cotton gin and the associated expansion of the cotton industry are rigorously assessed, before it’s too late.
|We are increasingly concerned that it appears the cotton industry can’t be trusted to follow even the basic rules that we have in place to protect our landscapes and river systems. It’s time for the NT Government to restore that trust, by investigating this project properly, before the impacts start to reach our riverbanks. It would be devastating to see a repeat of the same mistakes as the Murray-Darling. |
Thanks for all you are doing to keep our rivers safe. I hope we can all continue to enjoy the Top End lifestyle well into the future. Our rivers, fishing and local communities are too important to risk.
Lori Martin and the Territory Rivers – Keep ‘Em Flowing team
15 Oct 2021
My name is Lori. I’m lucky enough to have lived on a rural block in the Top End for more than 30 years. Like you, I appreciate how special our Territory lifestyle is – particularly our access to iconic free-flowing rivers like the Daly, Victoria and Roper. These rivers are the lifeblood of our Territory way of life – they’re places that we relax, unwind, cast a line and enjoy the serenity.
But these river systems are coming under pressure like never before. Clearing has already started on a block of land just outside Katherine, for a massive cotton gin at Tarwoo Station – all before the government has even assessed the company’s planning application!
I know this because I live right next to the planned location for the gin, but I was also shocked to see clear proof via satellite images* that show land clearing and construction already underway.
Will you help me by sharing this info with your friends, family and neighbours?
This is only the start. The cotton industry has made it clear that the cotton gin is crucial to their plans for massive expansion of cotton production in the Top End.
I’m deeply concerned about the industry’s expansion plan — if allowed to proceed, it will lead to massive clearing of native vegetation and new demands for water from our rivers and floodplains. And it all starts with the cotton gin.
The cotton gin is backed by industry players from the Murray Darling, who see the Territory as their next big project.
I’m standing up and so are many other Territorians. It’s critical that the NT Government hears clear calls from the community for proper scrutiny of this proposal. Our rivers, fishing and local communities are too important to risk.
Will you join me in calling for the NT Government to properly assess the environmental impacts of the cotton gin and associated expansion of the cotton industry?
Territorians should be able to trust that our government will do the job of protecting our water and landscapes for the future. It would be devastating to see a repeat of the same mistakes as the Murray-Darling.
Lori Martin, Edith Farms
PS. I had a chance to talk to ABC radio about the impacts of this massive cotton gin earlier this week – listen in here and share with your friends and neighbours.
*Sentinel 2-L2A satellite data provided by Sinergise Laboratory for geographical information systems Ltd, EO Browser (accessed on October 3).