Court rejects challenge to salmon farm near Tasmanian world heritage area | Australia news

Legal action by environmentalists against a controversial salmon farm on Tasmania’s east coast has been dismissed in the federal court.

In 2017 the Bob Brown Foundation and tourism businesses owned by the millionaire environmentalist Graeme Wood challenged the decision by the federal environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, to approve Tassal’s 28-pen fish farm in Okehampton bay, near a world heritage area.

They argued Frydenberg had erred in approving the project.

But in Thursday’s federal court judgment in Hobart, Justice Duncan Kerr dismissed the challenge.

Brown described the judgment as “not justified” and has flagged an appeal.

“We’re in this for the long game,” he said outside the court. “Tasmania’s public commons both in the seas and on the land are under attack as never before.”

The farm, which was given federal environmental approval in August, split community opinion.

Recreational fishers campaigned against the farm, which is slated to operate at a capacity of 800,000 fish, while conservationists raised concerns about potential impacts on calving endangered southern right whales.

The state government backed the farm though, saying it would boost jobs.

Tassal’s managing director and chief executive officer, Mark Ryan, welcomed the federal court decision and backed the company’s environmental management.

“The site has been scientifically researched and critiqued through careful assessments over a number of years,” he said.

“Okehampton bay continues to be a good site in terms of water temperature an environmental conditions.

“Tassal has extensive environmental monitoring in place on site, near the site and more than 15km away.”

In 2017 Tassal said it planned to grow and harvest seaweed around the Okehampton bay pens to reduce potentially damaging nitrogen levels in the water.