The Auvergne Cotton Case: Taking the NT government to Court over giving the green light to bulldoze savanna woodlands
We’re representing the Environment Centre of the Northern Territory (ECNT) in the NT Supreme Court, where we’ll challenge a decision to let a huge multinational corporation bulldoze over 900 hectares of important savanna woodlands.
The NT’s woodland savanna are a little known but vitally important ecosystem. It’s a diverse and, until now, an ecosystem largely untouched by industrial agriculture.
But a burgeoning cotton industry plans to bulldoze vast amounts of savanna woodland to pave the way for large-scale cotton production – which we’ve already seen devastate the Murray Darling Basin.
The Northern Territory has some of the largest intact savanna remaining on earth.
But our savanna is in crisis. Like the Great Barrier Reef, it’s a vital ecosystem that’s literally collapsing before our eyes.
The commercial cotton industry has had its sights set on the Northern Territory for years.
Clean Agriculture and International Tourism, a multinational corporation that operates Auvergne Station near the Victoria River, is one of several companies with plans for cotton production in the NT.
In 2022, the NT Pastoral Land Board permitted Clean Agriculture and International Tourism to raze 923 hectares of savanna at Auvergne Station, part of which is for cotton
On behalf of ECNT, we’re arguing the permit is invalid because growing cotton is not a “pastoral purpose” under the Pastoral Land Act.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Our client hopes this case will stop the cotton industry from doing huge environmental damage across the Territory, without any environmental scrutiny.
If the case is successful, the original permit will be revoked, and the company must apply for a non-pastoral use permit in addition to a land clearing permit if it wants to grow cotton.
This would mean cotton industry plans to bulldoze savanna on pastoral leases in the NT will require more rigorous assessment of the risks of environmental harm, and consent from Traditional Owners.
This case is also the first time a court will test the NT’s land clearing laws in the Pastoral Land Act.
A successful outcome would set a vital precedent preventing other commercial cotton producers from bulldozing critical savanna ecosystems without proper scrutiny.
This would be a huge win for some of the last remaining intact savanna on earth – and could prevent big cotton and industrial agriculture from devastating ecologically important ecosystems on country cared for by Traditional Owners for millennia.
MEET THE CLIENT
We’re representing the Environment Centre of the Northern Territory (ECNT), the NT’s peak conservation body.
Established in 1983, for almost forty years they’ve led powerful campaigns for nature, worked alongside First Nations communities fighting for justice, and held government and corporations to account for ecological harms.
Sign up to stay in the loop
Sign up for email updates about our NT work.
Environmental Justice Australia is ECNT’s legal team.
We are a public interest legal organisation.
We’re passionate about empowering people to participate in environmental decision making.
We believe together, we can create a world that works for all of us (and not just some of us).
Find out more or donate to fund more of our game-changing legal work.