The Federal Minister for the Environment, Australia, has ruled the Santos’ plan to explore for coal seam gas (CCG) in the Pilliga is not a “controlled action” under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. This means the new “water trigger” in the Environment and Biodiversity Protection Conservation Act is not invoked (Santos already has state NWS permissions), and a full environmental impact study is not required.
In June, Santos itself made a referral under the federal Environment and Biodiversity Protection Conservation Act seeking federal clearance for the program.
In July, the federal Environment Department confirmed it had received 3,800 submissions concerning Santos’ planned development, the vast majority of which opposed the project. Here is the web presence of one of the campaign groups.
Here is the ABC news article on the Federal Minister’s decision.
(1) If the threatened Pilliga Mouse, Regent Honeyeater or Koala are found in pre-clearance surveys, no construction is to take place during their breeding season.
(2) Staff and contractors must attend an induction by an ecologist;
(3) The groundwater must be monitored; and
(4) There must be log book records kept of flora and fauna.
The Minister’s decision allows for the felling of up to 400 hollow-bearing trees and the removal of up to 235 Cobar Greenhood Orchids.
Per the ABC news article – Santos says it’s pleased to learn its activities in the Pilliga do not impact water resources or other Commonwealth matters of national environmental significance. Spokesman, Sam Crafter, says the Commonwealth’s decision allows Santos to drill 15 new wells and turn on existing pilots already built by the former operator, Eastern Star Gas.