Tribunal scuppers plan to sink ship
JOSEPHINE TOVEY AND ELLIE HARVEYMarch 25, 2010
PLANS to sink a decommissioned navy ship off the central coast this weekend have been scuttled indefinitely, after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal placed a stay on the action.
Justice Garry Downes yesterday ordered the stay following an appeal by the Environmental Defender's Office against the decision of the federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, to issue a sea dumping permit for HMAS Adelaide.
The state government had planned to sink the ship 1700 metres off the beach at Avoca Bay on Saturday to create an artificial reef. But some residents and environmental experts feared the ship could release toxins, especially polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, into the ocean and would cause tidal problems.
The decision late yesterday will cancel both the sinking of the ship and a festival of events planned to coincide with the scuttling on Saturday.
Kirsty Ruddock, principal solicitor with the defender's office, who is running the appeal, said her clients were very happy to have the opportunity to express their arguments in court, and would now gather evidence to support their concerns about the PCBs and coastal erosion.
She said the ship would presumably be held at Garden Island at ''considerable cost'' until a decision could be made. Part of the argument made against them yesterday was that it would cost up to $1 million to delay the scuttling.
The NSW government had spent $367,000 on the planned festival for Saturday alone.
The Planning Minister, Tony Kelly, said the decision was extremely disappointing for people on the central coast who worked on the project.
Justice Downes said he placed the stay on the scuttling so that a full hearing of the appeal could take place. The hearing will continue today.