Flawed environmental approval process for CSG
BSA has been publicly stating its concerns about the lack of environmental scrutiny that has been given to the development of CSG industry in Queensland for years.
In April 2014, the Queensland Audit Office’s report on the ‘Environmental regulation of the resources and waste industries’ released recently puts a spotlight on many of the issues that BSA has been raising. The audit report stated that “EHP is not fully effective in its supervision, monitoring and enforcement of environmental conditions and is exposing the state to liability and the environment to harm unnecessarily”.
In 2013, the ABC Four Corners television program uncovered some serious allegations in relation to the approvals of Australia’s largest coal seam gas developments – Santos’ $18 billion project and QGC’s $20 billion project in Southern Queensland. Watch it here>
The program uncovered a flawed approval process revealing that the companies weren’t required to supply enough information for an informed decision to be made about environmental impacts. Despite this, various government agencies permitted the developments to go ahead. The ABC report stated that under the previous Government, ‘groundwater impacts’ were not to be considered in the approvals process for CSG applications.
Despite the seriousness of this matter, over the past twelve months, BSA has seen no clear communication from government on how it plans to ensure that projects that have already been approved will be subject to appropriate environmental scrutiny.
The Auditor-General’s report confirms that there has been, and continues to be, a defective system for environmental approvals and monitoring. That situation will only get worse until a clear message is sent that the “free for all” approach is over.
BSA wrote to the Premier regarding its concerns and some months later received a response from Minister for Environment Andrew Powell. The reply has given BSA little comfort that the Government has any mechanism in place to fully explore or revisit the previous approvals.