31 Jan STATEMENT
Wednesday – January 31st, 2024
On 27 October 2023, the NSW Land and Environment Court granted Aussie Ark two conservation licences. The licences permit Aussie Ark to rescue two remarkable species from the brink of extinction.
The licences allow Aussie Ark to capture a small number of the Broad-toothed rat and Broad-headed snake from the wild and take them back to the Australian Reptile Park to establish an insurance population for the species.
Aussie Ark had to go to the Land and Environment Court to obtain the licences by bringing appeals under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 because the Department of Planning refused to make a decision about the licences.
On 1 December 2023, Aussie Ark went back to Court to seek payment of its legal costs by the Department of Planning.
On 13 December 2023 Chief Justice Brian Preston of the Land and Environment Court delivered his costs judgment in favour of Aussie Ark in the matter of Australian Wildlife Ark Limited v Secretary, Department of Planning and Environment  NSWLEC 139. The Court ordered the Department of Planning to pay Aussie Ark’s legal costs.
In his judgment, his Honour said:
I consider that the making of an order as to the whole of the costs of both proceedings is fair and reasonable in the circumstances. An order for costs will serve to compensate Aussie Ark for the costs it has had to incur because of the conduct of the Department in the circumstances leading up to the commencement of the proceedings, which I have found to be unreasonable.
The path to securing these licences was arduous and at times frustrating. However, we are resolute in our commitment to the conservation of these species.
On 7 December 2023, the Department of Planning commenced a prosecution against Aussie Ark in the Local Court at Toronto. The Department alleges that Aussie Ark took three different species of animals from the wild for which it did not have licences. This includes the Broad-toothed rat for which a licence was granted by the Court.
The proceedings are at an early stage, and we are seeking legal advice.
Aussie Ark remains committed to the conservation of native Australian animals. It also remains committed to all of its supporters and will update you further once we have more information.