Queensland Coal and Coal Seam Gas Assessments and Approvals (Australia)

Queensland coal and coal seam gas projects are regulated by the (Queensland) State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (SDPWO Act).

The SDPWO Act is administered by the Coordinator-General and the relevant minister. The Coordinator-General acts, with wide-ranging powers, to plan, deliver and coordinate large-scale infrastructure projects. Information posted by the Queensland Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning about the activities of the Coordinator-General is here.

Information on assessments and approvals under the auspices of the Coordinator-General is here.

Proponents of projects of economic, social and/or environmental significance to Queensland may elect to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) that is evaluated by the Coordinator-General. These are termed Coordinated Projects.

One or more of the following characteristics will be evident:
– complex approval requirements, involving local, state and federal governments
– significant environmental effects
– strategic significance to the locality, region or state, including for the infrastructure, economic and social benefits, capital investment or employment opportunities it may provide
– significant infrastructure requirements.

But, the Coordinator-General is not bound to declare a project to be a coordinated project merely because it satisfies one or more of these characteristics. Any declaration made is under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (SDPWO Act).

Remember also that a memorandum of understanding exists between Queensland and the Australian Government surrounding the matter of ‘one stop shop’ at state-level for environmental approvals. My earlier post on this is here.

NB: Proponents of projects may be required to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) in Queensland under either the:
– State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971, or
– Environmental Protection Act 1994, or
– The Sustainable Planning Act 2009.
These are Queensland state laws.

If stipulated in the terms of reference, the EIS must also include a social impact assessment. The social impact assessment identifies the social impacts directly related to the project and proposes strategies to capitalise on social opportunities and to avoid, manage, mitigate or offset the predicted detrimental project.

The Coordinator-General may make one of two types of coordinated project declaration –
– requiring an environmental impact statement (EIS)
– not requiring an EIS – before making this declaration, the Coordinator-General must be satisfied the appropriate environmental impact assessments will be carried out under other legislation (e.g. Environmental Protection Act 1994 or Sustainable Planning Act 2009).
The Coordinator-General may also independently declare a coordinated project if he thinks it is justified.

Information on Coordinated Projects is found here.

Information on Coordinated Projects that are current EIS projects is here.

The Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project, for example, is a Queensland Coordinated Project with a current EIS in progress – information is here.

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