Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Federal environmental approval for Inpex's Ichthys project
28 June 2011
Environment minister Tony Burke has approved Inpex's Ichthys Browse Basin project, including a gas field facility, pipeline and processing facility, with strict environmental conditions.
Mr Burke said after carefully considering expert advice and public submissions received, he had yesterday approved the proposal under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999.
"After a thorough assessment, including expert advice and public submissions I have determined this project can go ahead under national environment law," Mr Burke said.
"While there are significant economic benefits to this project, which must be a consideration in my decision, my focus has been on protecting matters under national environmental law.
"To ensure our precious marine environment is protected, I've set stringent conditions on the project, which require Inpex to submit for my approval a series of management plans."
Inpex Browse proposes to develop the Ichthys Gas Field in the Browse Basin off the North West Shelf of Australia to produce liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas and condensate.
The proposal includes offshore processing in the Browse Basin, an 850-935 kilometre pipeline from the gas field to Darwin Harbour and an onshore processing facility at Blaydin Point, Darwin.
The project was assessed under the EPBC Act by an Environmental Impact Statement in conjunction with the Northern Territory Government.
Inpex must develop a greenhouse gas management strategy outlining the measures and offsets it proposes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before production can commence.
The company must put in place measures to minimise waste and noise impacts, including noise generated from pile driving and blasting.
There will be conditions imposed on the dredging and spoil disposal to ensure it is managed to world's best practice to protect marine life, including dolphins, dugongs and turtles.
With the help of an expert panel, the company must develop and implement a rigorous management plan including measures to prevent, detect and respond to impacts on marine life, and to allow dredging methods and mitigation measures to be changed to adapt to new information.
Inpex will be required to permanently protect and manage around 2,000 hectares of vegetation, as well as marine habitat for inshore dolphins, marine turtles and dugongs.
Inpex has committed to invest $24 million for Indigenous groups to manage marine mammals and reptiles.
The company must also map habitat in the Darwin Harbour region, establish a monitoring and research program for the harbour and research of coastal dolphin populations and provide funding to Australian Research Council Linkage projects.
The approval conditions are available at: www.environment.gov.au/epbc/index.html