The Australian government has initiated a review of an emergency application submitted by an indigenous group aiming to block the construction of Santos' massive $3.6 billion (A$5.7 billion) Barossa gas pipeline project, situated off the northern coast of Australia.
The application, filed under the provisions of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act, has been directed to the Australian Minister for Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek.
The indigenous group is urgently seeking a special declaration from Minister Plibersek to prevent what they term "serious and immediate harm to significant underwater cultural sites" in the Timor Sea, where the Barossa Gas pipeline Project is slated for development.
"Santos has publicly announced its intention to commence work on the pipeline as early as this Wednesday, despite being aware of concerns raised by the Tiwi indigenous community about the potential traversal of an area of significant underwater cultural heritage," the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) stated in a press release.
Six indigenous elders on the Tiwi Islands have implored Minister Plibersek to issue a declaration to safeguard their heritage, adding that their heritage faces immediate peril from the planned Barossa pipeline development.
The review of this emergency application underscores the ongoing tensions between indigenous heritage preservation and large-scale development projects in Australia.
The outcome of this review will hold significant implications for the future of the Barossa gas project and the protection of cultural heritage in the region.