Conservation council face decision

THE FUTURE of the Wide Bay Burnett Conservation Council is in the hands of a federal court justice after its legal challenge to Burnett Water’s operation of a fish transfer device at Paradise Dam wrapped up.

WBBCC could face legal costs between $1.5 million and $2 million if Justice John Logan rules against its challenge.

WBBCC alleged that a fish transfer device built at the dam, north-west of Biggenden, had failed to protect lungfish by restricting the ability for the lungfish to migrate.

A legal case was launched against Burnett Water in October 2008 after a Federal Government audit of the dam showed it to be in breach of environmental approval conditions.

Closing submissions in the long-running case were heard in a Brisbane Federal Court on Friday.

“We’ve taken the government on,” Emma-Kate Currie, WBBCC co-ordinator, said.

“If we win we get to negotiate an outcome for the lungfish at Paradise Dam. That would give us clout we’ve never had before.”

The other side of that coin is the prospect of the not-for-profit organisation going into liquidation if Justice Logan rules in favour of Burnett Water.

“We walked into this case aware of the risks,” Ms Currie said.

“We put it to our membership and we decided it was a risk worth taking.”

A ruling is not expected for at least six weeks while Justice Logan considers the evidence presented during the case.

The evidence of the WBBCC’s final witness, hydrologist Max Winders, was restricted after Justice Logan ruled that parts of his report were beyond Mr Winders’ knowledge and inadmissible as evidence.

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