This case involved an application for an injunction to restrain NSW wheat farmers from clearing a wetland. The Gwydir Wetlands had been declared Ramsar Wetlands pursuant to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act).
The Ramsar Convention is the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat.
Under the EPBC Act a declared Ramsar Wetland is one that is designated by the Commonwealth under Article 2 of the Ramsar Convention for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance kept under that Article: see s 17(1).
Section 475 of EPBC Act provides that an order for an injunction may be brought by the Minister, interested person or a person acting on behalf of an unincorporated association, to restrain a person from engaging in conduct or require the person to do something.
The Minister for the Environment & Heritage sought and was granted an interim injunction to restrain the farmers from continuing to contravene section 16 of the contravening the EPBC Act.
The farmers argued that they did not contravene the EPBC Act. Sackville J dismissed their arguments and found that they had contravened section 16 of the EPBC Act.
Sackville J granted an injunction restraining the farmer’s activities and requiring them to rehabilitate the wetland. His Honour also awarded pecuniary penalties totalling $450,000, plus costs.
The farmers appealed against these decisions but the Full Court of the Federal Court dismissed their appeal.