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An overview of possible impacts from coal seam gas development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales
by Elfian Schieren, 2012

1. Introduction
2. Energy and coal seam gas development
2.1 Economic viability underpinning coal seam gas development
2.2 Renewable, sustainable energy development
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- Biogas
2.3 Coal seam gas development at a global scale
2.4 Coal seam gas development in Australia
3 Coal seam gas extraction process
- Drilling and dewatering
- Hydraulic Fracturing
- Produced Water
4 Risks to water resources from coal seam gas development
4.4 Ground water use
4.5 Water produced by coal seam gas
4.6 Contamination of Groundwater
5 Other Consequences of coal seam gas development
5.4 Impacts to agricultural production
5.5 Health impacts on humans and animals
5.6 Impacts on greenhouse gas emissions
5.7 Impacts on seismic activity
5.8 Economic impacts
5.9 Cumulative impacts
6 Potential for coal seam gas development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales
6.1 Northern Rivers Region
6.2 Using trade-offs and opportunity costs in evaluating CSG development
6.3 Prospects for development in Northern Rivers region
6.4 Energy development in Northern Rivers region
6.5 Northern Rivers community actions and groups in response to CSG development
7 Discussion
8 Conclusion
9 References

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Productivity Commission report identifies logical regulatory changes

10 December 2013 There is substantial scope to improve Australia's development assessment and approval regulatory framework for major projects, according to a report by the Productivity Commission.

The report - Major Project Development Assessment Processes - identifies long approval timeframes, conflicting policy objectives, duplicative processes, regulatory uncertainty, inadequate consultation and enforcement and regulatory outcomes falling short of their objectives as areas requiring attention.

The Commission proposes limits on the use of 'stop-the-clock' provisions; separation of regulators from policy institutions; limits on merit review of non-Ministerial decisions; and better access for third parties to enforce conditions on approvals. It also argues for re-launching accreditation by the Commonwealth of State and Territory environment assessment and approval procedures.

The Commission outlines how jurisdictions can establish a 'one project, one assessment, one decision' framework for environmental approvals, through bilateral assessment and approval agreements. This would reduce costly duplication between Australian and State and Territory Government processes.

The report also proposes statutory timelines for assessment and approval decisions, the wider use of Strategic Assessments, and the establishment of Major Project Coordination Offices.

Presiding Commissioner Jonathan Coppel said 'Implementation of a comprehensive package of regulatory reforms is essential if Australia is to secure the full benefits of major projects and remain an attractive destination for investment, while maintaining high standards of community protection'.

“Recommendation 6.3 in the report proposes the repeal of the ‘water trigger’ amendment under the EPBC Act in the event that a regulatory impact assessment of the measure suggests that the provision does not provide any meaningful benefits to the community. This is a particularly welcome recommendation for development of natural gas from coal seams" said APPEA in a press release.

APPEA was not happy with some aspects of the report: “With regard to other specific recommendations, APPEA believes that caution must be exercised on the proposal to allow third parties to initiate legal action to enforce the conditions that have been placed on primary approvals (Recommendation 10.4).

“The report itself identifies potential challenges with introducing such a provision, including the possibility of vexatious claims that are simply designed to delay projects.

“Further, the proposal to allow limited merits review of decisions not made by a Minister (Recommendation 9.1) could expose a project proposal to challenge by people seeking to frustrate the relevant project.

“Recent experience shows that this could add a further two years to the process of assessing and determining approval applications, which would increase cost and timing risks.”

Australian Productivity Commission

Major Project Development Assessment Processes

Commissioned study - Final report to Government - 6 December 2013

The Australian Government asked the Productivity Commission to undertake a study to compare Australia's major project development assessment processes against international best practice.

The study considered the extent to which major project development assessment processes across all levels of government affect the costs incurred by business, deliver good regulatory outcomes for the public and provide transparency and certainty to promote business investment.

Specifically, the Commission was asked to:

•examine the regulatory objectives and key features of Australia's major project development assessment processes at all levels of government, including the interactions between levels of government, the role of facilitation, the capacities and resources of the institutions involved and significant variations between jurisdictions

•examine the regulatory objectives and key features of comparable international systems with respect to major project development assessment processes

•identify critical elements of development assessment processes and compare these to assess the extent to which different decision-making approaches in Australian jurisdictions and alternative investment destinations overseas have a material impact on costs, timeliness, transparency, certainty and regulatory outcomes

•examine the strategic planning context for major project approvals in Australia and in comparable international systems

•identify best practice and against this benchmark evaluate jurisdictional approaches, such as one-stop shops and statutory timeframes, to make recommendations to improve Australia's processes, both within and between jurisdictions, by reducing duplication, removing unnecessary complexity and regulation, and eliminating unnecessary costs or unnecessarily lengthy timeframes for approvals processes

•assess mechanisms for 'scaling' regulatory requirements relative to project size and the expected benefits against the potential environmental, social, economic and other impacts

•compare the efficiency and effectiveness with which Australian approvals processes achieve the protection of social, economic, heritage, cultural and environmental assets compared with comparable international systems.

The Commission consulted with industry, non-government stakeholders and governments to conduct the study.

Productivity Commission - Major Project Development Assessment Processes

The draft report was released on 5 August 2013. Written submissions were invited by 13 September 2013. Final report to Government - 6 December 2013

Major Project Development Assessment Processes
Draft report (PDF - 3201 Kb)

Major Project Development Assessment Processes
Draft report (Word/ZIP - 1349 Kb)

Submissions received for the Major Project Development Assessment Processes commissioned study.


The editors of advise that this website is encouraging all political parties to contribute, especially if their policies place the health, well-being and rights of citizens ahead of mining profits.

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