Woodside Petroleum’s Scarborough LNG project faces a new hurdle after the Conservation Council of WA lodged a Supreme Court action to overturn environmental approvals.
The project is part of the Burrup Hub proposal, with gas to be processed at a new train at the Pluto LNG plant.
Approvals at the neighbouring Karratha LNG plant, operated by Woodside and owned by the North West Shelf Venture, are also to be challenged as part of the legal bid.
A final investment decision on the $15 billion Scarborough project is due next year.
Woodside said the approvals from the Environmental Protection Authority had been received 18 months ago.
Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman said in a release that Woodside had complied with regulatory requirements.
“We intend to vigorously defend our position,” Mr Coleman said.
"The CCWA is resorting to a legal challenge a year and a half after the approvals were granted.
"Their action will cost taxpayers money and flies in the face of the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) independent assessment.
“We strongly support the state government’s and the EPA’s processes.”
CCWA will be represented by the Environmental Defender’s Office and will allege approvals contravened the EPA act.
CCWA director Piers Verstegen claimed the approvals had been given without environmental assessment or consultation.
“Approvals for processing vast amounts of new gas have been given in secret, with no environmental assessment and no consultation with the public or stakeholders,”he said.
“This includes new gas from the proposed giant Browse Basin and Scarborough offshore gas fields, as well as onshore resources which may require fracking to extract.
“Documents released under Freedom of Information reveal that the impacts of pollution from processing the new gas - either on the climate or Murujuga rock art - were not assessed when the approvals were granted.”
Environmental documents show two trains were expected at Pluto when the facility was initially approved.
Only one has been built, however.
In July last year, the approvals were amended to broaden which gas fields may be used in the development, to improve flexibility in turbine design, and to include a potential trucking facility.
CCWA has said the hub projects would produce 6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in their lives, while Mr Coleman said every tonne of carbon emitted at the hub would help avoid 4 tonnes of emissions globally.
Woodside has announced a net zero emissions target by 2050 for its share of the projects.