ENVIRONMENT group Save the Tarkine says a legal win against the Environmental Protection Authority over a mine permit is bitter sweet.
Justice Stephen Estcourt yesterday ruled an environmental protection notice issued by EPA director Alex Schaap altering a permit to allow acid-producing waste to be stored above ground at a West Coast mine was unlawful.
The power of Mr Schaap to alter the Shree Minerals Nelson Bay River mine permit was called into question during court proceedings in the Supreme Court of Tasmania last week.
The permit for the iron ore mine required the company to store potentially acid-forming waste below ground, but an EPN was used to amend it after it was disclosed 20 times more waste was being produced than originally planned.
Save the Tarkine spokesman Scott Jordan said the waste put ground water and the Nelson Bay River at risk.
"We're urging the government to act swiftly to remedy this situation and to ensure the pollution to the Nelson Bay River doesn't continue to occur," Mr Jordan said.
"It's a clear vindication that when we said 12 months ago this permit was invalid and unlawful that that in fact was the case," he said.
"This is an area that should be protected".
Solicitor-General Michael O'Farrell had argued the changes did not fundamentally change the permit.
But Justice Estcourt said he did not agree with Mr O'Farrell.
"Quantitatively, the extent of the physical changes permitted by the variation of the permit ... is in my view quite dramatic," Justice Estcourt said.
Greens environment spokesman Nick McKim also urged the government to ensure Shree Minerals stored the material as originally permitted.
"This judicial review finding is a fantastic Christmas present for the Tarkine, and an affirmation of the role community and environmental organisations such as Save the Tarkine play in our democracy," Mr McKim said.
Justice Estcourt ordered the government to pay the cost of the proceedings.
A government spokesman said the EPA would "carefully consider and take advice on the court's decision".
"The government continues to have confidence in the EPA and its management of environmental matters," the spokesman said.
Justice Estcourt will make a final order on the future of the original permit at a later date.