Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Australia Pacific LNG project gets environmental approval

Media release
22 February 2011

Tony Burke, Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, has approved, with strict environmental conditions, the Australia Pacific LNG project at Gladstone proposed by Origin Energy and ConocoPhillips.

"After a rigorous assessment, which sought the advice of experts and included public consultation, I have concluded that the APLNG project can go ahead without unacceptable impacts on matters protected under national environment law," Mr Burke said.

"While I have considered the significant economic benefits of this project, my focus has been on protecting environmental matters of national significance through strict conditions that will minimise any potential environmental impacts.

"In relation to the Great Artesian Basin, I have taken a precautionary approach by requiring 'early warning' thresholds and detailed ongoing monitoring.

"The companies must submit for my approval water management and monitoring plans detailing how impacts on aquifers, groundwater and surface water will be minimised, including through strict limits to maintain aquifer pressures.

"Water pressure must be maintained above conservative thresholds that will be set on the advice of experts. Should these be exceeded, the companies must have plans ready to re-establish pressure, through re-injection or other means.

"In making my decision, I considered the potential impacts on agricultural land, and have set strict environmental conditions to ensure water resources are properly managed to protect nationally significant matters.

"These conditions are consistent with those I attached to the Santos and Queensland Gas Company coal seam gas projects in October last year.

"I appreciate the importance of looking at the cumulative impacts of previously approved and other proposed coal seam gas projects in the region. That's why I'm requiring the companies to work on a regional groundwater flow model for coal seam gas developments across the Surat and Bowen basins.

"The conditions also contain protection measures for threatened species and ecological communities, migratory species and national and world heritage values. For the LNG facilities on Curtis Island, these include requirements to minimise light and noise, reduce vessel speeds, limit vessel movements, and manage feral species and weeds.

"To offset unavoidable impacts in the Curtis Island industry precinct, the companies must secure an area five times the size of their project sites, to be added to the National Park estate or protected in perpetuity.

"Any dredging activity will be subject to strict conditions to minimise impacts on marine species and water quality, including through ongoing water quality monitoring and restrictions on the number and types of dredges that can be used at any one time to reduce turbidity.

"This project will contribute significantly to the Queensland economy and support thousands of jobs, and my conditional approval shows that we can support growth while protecting our precious environment."

For more information, and the full list of conditions, go to: www.environment.gov.au/epbc