Case Note: Gomeroi People v Santos NSW Pty Ltd and Santos NSW (Narrabri Gas) Pty Ltd [2024] FCAFC 26


In Gomeroi People v Santos NSW Pty Ltd and Santos NSW (Narrabri Gas) Pty Ltd [2024] FCAFC 26, the Gomeroi People successfully appealed the National Native Title Tribunal’s (NNTT) previous determination in Santos NSW Pty Ltd v Gomeroi People [2022] NNTTA 74. In that determination, the NNTT ruled that Santos’ petroleum production lease applications (PPLAs) made in connection with its Narrabri Gas Project may be granted, subject to one condition that a certain cultural heritage research project be completed.

The Gomeroi Applicant appealed to the Full Federal Court on six questions of law. Five of those broadly related to issues concerning whether Santos negotiated in good faith and one related to environmental and public interest matters. The Gomeroi Applicant was unsuccessful on the good faith grounds however the Full Federal Court (Mortimer CJ and O’Bryan J, with Rangiah J dissenting) found that the NNTT had failed to appropriately consider the environmental and public interest evidence led by the Gomeroi Applicant in the NNTT proceedings, including that of climate scientist Professor Will Steffen. The Full Federal Court remitted the matter back to the NNTT for a further hearing and determination.

This is a significant decision relating to a major NSW project. It is likely that environmental considerations will play an increasingly central role in future NNTT proceedings.

A copy of our case note is available here.