The impact of billionaire Andrew Forrest’s plan to construct 10 weirs on his Pilbara cattle station must consider the spiritual connection between traditional owners and the local river, rather than focus on hydrogeological impacts alone. That was the view of Griff Ranson from the State Solicitor’s Office, who today told the State Administrative Tribunal that a key issue was not if the plan for 10 weirs — small structures built across the river — would make the river “better or worse”. “The Thalanyji people perceive that human interference with the natural order of the river will have harmful spiritual effects upon Thalanyji country and Thalanyji people,” he said. Mr Forrest’s private company Tattarang wants to build the weirs on the Ashburton River at Minderoo Station. The weirs would slow the flow of the river, giving surface water rains more time to seep into the aquifer, providing a form of managed aquifer recharge. The additional water would be used as stock water and to grow cattle fodder. The Buurabalayji Thalanyji Aboriginal Corporation, which represent Native Title holders in the area, claim the river is a sacred site. The case is being heard in the SAT after the application for the weirs, made under section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act, was refused by the Aboriginal Affairs Minister, and attempts at mediation failed. The hearing continues.