Landholders question CSG approval process

Beef Central, 14/02/2013

A group representing the concerns of landholders in relation to the rapid development of coal seam gas (CSG) says the Government must give assurance that it has the power to intervene and put a halt on previously-approved CSG projects if scientific studies uncover any unacceptable risks.

The call comes after News Limited newspaper The Courier Mail revealed earlier this week that the approvals process for three major CSG projects in Queensland may have been flawed.

In a media statement released this week, Basin Sustainability Alliance (BSA) Chair David Hamilton said he was not surprised by the revelations that senior bureaucrats had been under pressure to complete environmental assessments without due process.

"BSA has been saying for years that the pace of the industry roll-out was alarming and major CSG projects were being approved when there was still a serious lack of understanding of the long term impacts,” Mr Hamilton said in the media release.

“Necessary research to understand these impacts is still being done. In fact, some of the major studies being undertaken are years away from results.

"BSA is genuinely concerned about land and water resources. While we accept this Government has altered some of the CSG policies considerably, it doesn’t change the fact that these projects are already underway and the science and regulation is still playing catch up.

"We are concerned that approvals were given without due consideration of the cumulative impacts of CSG developments whose scale is unprecedented anywhere else in the world.

"Ultimately, regardless of who was responsible in government at the time State approval was given, we need to know that nothing was comprised in what was potentially a rushed and superficial approval process.

"We want the Government to give us an assurance that they do have the regulatory power to shut down operations if they pose too much environmental risk. At this stage we do not have that assurance."

He said Government must be careful not to become a ‘filing cabinet’ for the CSG industry and must get serious about the time and attention given to environmental approvals and the resources given to enforcement.

"It was very disheartening for those of us who thought the Government was listening to our legitimate concerns, to read a Government spokesperson reportedly say that "there is no evidence of…adverse outcomes that would give rise to concerns".

Mr Hamilton said the group had been voicing its concerns about the ‘adaptive management regime’ that the Government is applying to this industry.

"It’s like saying ‘we’ll wait until the harm is evident and then we’ll try and work out how to fix it’. Until then we all have to cross our fingers and hope the industry knows what it’s doing."

Source: BSA


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