DISMISSED: Linc Energy CEO Peter Bond, allegedly partly responsible for Hopland environmental disaster was in a Brisbane Court to make an application for a stay order. Pic: Glenn Hunt
DISMISSED: Linc Energy CEO Peter Bond, allegedly partly responsible for Hopland environmental disaster was in a Brisbane Court to make an application for a stay order. Pic: Glenn Hunt

Court setback for former Linc Energy CEO

A former Linc Energy executive had his stay application dismissed at the Planning and Environment Court of Queensland in Brisbane on Monday, March 15.

Linc Energy was partly responsible for one of Queensland's worst environmental disasters during an experimental coal seam gas project on the Western Downs at Hopeland 30km from Chinchilla between 2007 and 2013.

 

IN COURT: Former Linc Energy boss Peter Bond. Pic: Anthony Weate
IN COURT: Former Linc Energy boss Peter Bond. Pic: Anthony Weate

 

Court documents reveal former Linc Energy founder Peter Bond filed for a stay (which means to stop certain requirements), of an Environmental Protection Order made against him.

The Environmental Protection Act states an EPO is a legal tool issued by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, "to a person or company to undertake specific actions within specific time frames to remedy a risk or prevent further harm."

Since being placed on an Environmental Protection Order in 2017, Judge Muir said Mr Bond had twice unsuccessfully applied for a stay order on the EPO and also failed to co-operate with its terms.

The EPO required Mr Bond to "rehabilitate any land significantly disturbed by these activities," and "provide a bank guarantee to the value of $5.5m to the Department to secure compliance with the EPO".

"(The Department of Environment and Science) issued a Direction Notice to the Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy to carry out the works required under the EPO in place of (Mr Bond )," the document stated.

Court documents revealed the DNRME conducted some of the rehabilitation initially outlined in Mr Bond's EPO work in December 2019 and completed the rest in February and March 2020.

 

Judgment

 

DRILL SITE: Linc Energy site in Hopeland on the Western Downs, near Chinchilla. Pic: Alasdair Young / Chinchilla News
DRILL SITE: Linc Energy site in Hopeland on the Western Downs, near Chinchilla. Pic: Alasdair Young / Chinchilla News

 

Since the EPO had expired, Mr Bond's senior counsel argued a stay should have been granted, because it would undermine Mr Bond's plan to appeal the EPO, and hold him accountable to the above terms.

"The works have, essentially, been done," his lawyer said.

"The need for the bank guarantee has disappeared and as I've said more than once, that should mean that the department's focus is first - ignoring the criminal proceedings that are to be heard later this year - is first on the EPO appeal.

"And if that is unsuccessful by Mr Bond, then they would turn their attention to - to prosecution for noncompliance with the EPO."

Judge Muir rejected the submission and said, Mr Bond's fear that DES would retaliate and force him to hand over the $5m, "or to pursue the complaint against the applicant for breaching the EPO, was baseless".

"I find that the applicant has not satisfied me that a stay is necessary to secure the EPO Appeal."

 

Multiple Linc CEO's facing alleged criminal charges

 

PRIME AG LAND: A view of the he Linc Energy Hopeland site form the air. Pic: Supplied
PRIME AG LAND: A view of the he Linc Energy Hopeland site form the air. Pic: Supplied

 

In 2018, Linc Energy was found guilty of causing serious environmental harm between 2007 and 2013, after carbon monoxide, hydrogen and hydrogen sulphide was released into groundwater via a major gas leak.

During September and November 2019, the company's former CEO, Mr Bond, was charged with five counts of allegedly wilfully and unlawfully causing serious environmental harm in his capacity as an executive officer of the company.

Mr Bond along with four other Linc Energy executives, Donald Schofield, Stephen Dumble, Jacobus Terblanche and Daryl Rattai have all been accused of failing to comply with the Environmental Protection Act.

Mr Bond was committed to stand trial on March 5, 2020, and the trial will take place at the Brisbane District Court in August 2021.

 

New CGS development planned near contamination site

 

PROPOSED WELLS: Each black dot indicates a proposed gas well near the Lin Energy contamination site. Pic: Arrow Energy
PROPOSED WELLS: Each black dot indicates a proposed gas well near the Lin Energy contamination site. Pic: Arrow Energy

 

As court proceedings into the Hopeland CSG contamination continue play out between the Department of Environment and Science and the former executive team of Linc, Arrow Energy is planning to drill 280 wells in the neighbouring the area - pending approval by the Department of Environment and Science.

The DES recently commissioned a report into the risks associated with the project, where independent groundwater consultants, RDM Hydro, found there is "sufficient uncertainty" around the spread of contaminants via Arrow's activities.

Arrow Energy CEO Cecile Wake defended the proposed development, pointing out the independent report concluded that it is unlikely that Arrow's activities would mobilise contaminants from the former Linc Energy gasifiers that would reach a site boundary and that Arrow's modelled transport distances are not unreasonable.



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