The Federal Government has moved to meet community concerns over coal seam gas following pressure from the Federal Member for Page, Kevin Hogan.
Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce noted that Mr Hogan had raised serious concerns regarding the potential for lower environmental standards through the introduction of a “one stop shop” system of approvals for CSG developments.
“However, following discussions between Mr Hogan and Environment Minister Greg Hunt, the government has agreed to maintain a strong assurance framework while still removing duplication between the federal and state governments.
The amendments to the legislation passed last week highlight Mr Hogan’s powerful voice in Federal Parliament” said Minister Joyce.
Amendments to the EPBC Act sought by Mr Hogan, and which the government has agreed to, include:
*Requiring the states and territories to request advice from IESC (Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC) in relation to projects covered by the water trigger, and
*Giving the IESC additional functions to enable the Federal Minister for the Environment to request advice about the extent to which a state or territory has considered the initial advice of the IESC
“These changes mean that the states will not be the sole decision makers in this process, that the communities will retain a say in the process and that the Commonwealth Government will still have the power to intervene,” Mr Hogan said.
“These are significant changes to where we were before.”
Mr Hogan said the government had recognised community concerns over the impacts of coal seam gas projects on water resources.
“Under the amendments to the EPBC Act, water trigger projects must now go through two separate approval processes,” Mr Hogan said.
“This is different to how all other matters of national environmental significance are treated.”
Under the changes communities will be able to monitor the outcomes of the “one stop shop”, Mr Hogan said.
“States and territories will continue to be accountable to the community as well as to the Commonwealth.”
Minister Joyce added “for Kevin to have made such a significant impact so early in his term stands testament to his strong representation of the North Coast region and should give confidence to his constituents that he is doing exactly what they voted him in to do; fiercely advocate for his local community.”