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26 August 2009
The expansion of Chevron Australia’s Gorgon project on Barrow Island has today been given conditional environmental approval by the Federal Environment Minister.
Environment Minister Peter Garrett said his approval of the expansion followed assessment and approval by the WA Government and follows the former environment minister’s original approval issued in 2007.
“I am satisfied that with the conditions placed on this project by the WA Government and the strengthened conditions I have imposed, the expansion can proceed without unacceptable impacts on the matters covered by Commonwealth jurisdiction in relation to this project, namely listed threatened and migratory species,” Mr Garrett said.
“I have given this proposal the same high level of scrutiny that I apply to all of my decision-making responsibilities, as I am legally required to under national environment law.
“While the economic benefits of this project clearly cannot be overlooked, and legally, must be a factor in my consideration, my key focus has been whether or not this expansion could adequately mitigate and manage any additional potential impacts on the protected species, such as the flatback turtle and the terrestrial fauna.
“I have also agreed to vary the conditions of the original 2007 approval to ensure that the strict protection I am applying to the expansion proposal will now apply to the entire operation.
“The conditions are now more clearly prescribed to give greater certainty to the public and the proponent about what will be required for this project to comply with both state and federal requirements.
“Additionally, to increase transparency, state and federal requirements will be incorporated within single management plans. This will give the public a clearer view of how the company plans to manage or avoid potential environmental impacts.
"I have also made it a requirement for Chevron to make publicly available its performance reports, which will outline how the project is complying with the conditions of approval.”
Chevron must now prepare for approval a range of plans relating to the protection, management and monitoring of nationally protected terrestrial fauna, such as the spectacled hare-wallaby, burrowing bettong and golden bandicoot.
“Ongoing monitoring of these species must be carried out to ensure any changes to these populations are detected, measured and where necessary, remedial action is taken.
“Chevron must also meet a number of requirements to address potential impacts on the flatback turtle. These include setting up a monitoring program to measure and detect changes to the turtle population, and to outline the measures and controls in place to manage and avoid impacts, particularly in relation to reducing light and noise emissions.
“In setting these conditions, I took account that Chevron is required to contribute $62.5 million to the northwest shelf flatback turtle conservation program to increase protection of the turtle population over the life of the proposal.
“I have also imposed a condition which will allow me to direct Chevron to take action if I believe the project is adversely impacting on the flatback turtle. Any such decision would be based on the data received from the ongoing monitoring required under the approval conditions.
“And, to ensure that the project prevents invasive species from being introduced and effectively manages any existing feral pests on the island, the quarantine management system that was a condition of the original proposal decision, is a requirement of this expansion proposal.
“This includes putting in place weed management measures, eradication programs and vessel inspections.”
The Gorgon expansion proposal includes increased outputs through an additional LNG production train and altering the marine facilities in state waters by lengthening the causeway and marine offloading facility.
A copy of the federal approval conditions can be found at: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc