On 28 February 2017, the Minister approved the Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project with strict environmental conditions to protect the Great Barrier Reef and threatened species. The Project will raise the existing Eden Bann Weir and construct a new weir at Rookwood on the Fitzroy River, Queensland.
The project was assessed under the Bilateral Agreement with the Queensland Government by the Queensland Office of the Coordinator-General through an environmental impact statement. The Queensland Coordinator-General completed the Assessment Report, which assessed impacts on all matters of national environmental significance for this project, on 8 December 2016.
The New Acland Coal Mine is located about 35 kilometres north north-west of Toowoomba, in the Darling Downs, Queensland. The expansion will increase production to 7.5 million tonnes of thermal coal each year. The existing mine has operated since October 2002.
The project was determined a controlled action under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) on 24 May 2007 for likely significant impacts on listed threatened species and ecological communities (EPBC referral 2007/3423). Following amendments to the EPBC Act, on 17 October 2013, the Minister included the protection of water resources from a large coal mining development as a controlling provision.
The project was assessed by Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the bilateral agreement with the Queensland Government.
The Queensland Coordinator-General completed the Assessment Report, which assessed impacts on all matters of national environmental significance for this project, on 19 December 2014. The Minister carefully considered the Queensland Coordinator-General’s Assessment Report, advice of the Independent Expert Scientific Committee, advice of the Department and all public comments received before deciding whether this proposal could go ahead. On 18 January 2017, the Minister approved this expansion with 28 strict environmental conditions to protect water resources and listed threatened species and ecological communities.
The Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development provided advice on this proposal three times and has advised that the conditions of approval fully address the Committee’s advice.
The Santos GLNG Gas Field Development Project is an expansion of the existing Santos GLNG Project (EPBC 2008/4059) approved in 2010. The project will add up to a maximum of 6,100 coal seam gas production wells to the already approved 2,650 wells located across the Surat and Bowen basins in Central Southern Queensland.
The project was determined a controlled action under the EPBC Act for likely significant impacts to listed threatened species and communities, listed migratory species, wetlands of international importance and water resources.
The project was assessed by environmental impact statement under the bilateral agreement with the Queensland Government.
The draft environmental impact statement was released for public comment from 10 November 2014 to 22 December 2014. A total of nine submissions were received from the public.
The Queensland Coordinator-General completed the Assessment Report, which assessed impacts on all matters of national environmental significance for this project, on 3 December 2015. The Minister carefully considered the Queensland Coordinator-General’s Assessment Report, advice of the Independent Expert Scientific Committee, advice of the Department and all public comments received before deciding whether this proposal could go ahead. On 22 March 2016, the Minister approved this expansion with 41 strict environmental conditions to protect water resources, migratory species and listed threatened species and ecological communities.
The North Maclean Industrial Area development is part of the Greater Flagstone Priority Development Area, which is a satellite city for Brisbane, expected to absorb around 120 000 residents.
The development will involve clearing a 120 hectare site at 4499-4651 Mount Lindesay Highway. The northern portion of the site consists of dry sclerophyll forest while the southern portion is mostly pasture with scattered trees.
A delegate of the federal Minister for the Environment carefully considered the advice of the Department and all public comments received, before deciding whether this proposal could go ahead. On 10 February 2016 the delegate provided conditional approval for the North Maclean Industrial Area development under national environmental law.
Conditions to protect the environment
Surveys have confirmed that koalas are present at the site and the dry sclerophyll forest on-site provides foraging habitat for the grey-headed flying fox and the swift parrot.
The approval under national environmental law includes 12 conditions that will protect nationally listed species, including:
- Limits on the amount of clearing that can occur as part of the action (condition 1).
- Protection of native vegetation through biodiversity offsets to compensate for the impact of the action on koalas and other species (conditions 2 and 3). The development cannot commence until an offset strategy providing appropriate commitments is approved by the Environment Minister or a delegate.
- A condition to ensure the welfare of native animals that are present at the site (condition 4).
- Measures to ensure there are no impacts to swamp tea-tree (Melaleuca irbyana) (conditions 5 and 6).
- Administrative conditions, including requirements for publication of an approved offset strategy (condition 12) and compliance reports (condition 9).
Department of the Environment compliance and enforcement officers will closely monitor operation of the development to ensure the conditions of approval are met.
The local community have expressed significant concerns around the potential impacts of the development on the endangered spot-tailed quoll. The Department has taken these concerns seriously and conducted an exhaustive assessment of the potential impacts on the species. There is no indication of quolls at the project site and the site does not contain dens that are required for the survival of the species.
Community advocates, including the Logan and Albert Conservation Association, provided useful information throughout the assessment process, including the results of surveys and documentation of quoll sightings within about 10 kilometres of, though not at, the action area. Reports of sightings closest to the project site include:
- a live sighting reported in 2003 on a property to the north of Crowson Lane which forms the northern border of the site
- one dead quoll at the corner of Greenhill Rd and Crowson Lane to the north of the site during winter 2004
- a live sighting reported in 2005 on the other side of the Mount Lindsay highway and to the east of the site.
Much of this information is summarised in the 2015 report Looking out for Quolls in Logan. This report summarises comprehensive surveys conducted in the broader area, though not at the proposed action area, and demonstrates that there is a population of quolls in the Logan City council area.
- Looking out for quolls in Logan - final report (PDF - 1.01 MB)
- Looking out for quolls in Logan - appendices (PDF - 4.16 MB)
As a result of the concerns raised during the public consultation period, the proponent conducted targeted quoll surveys at the proposed action area and submitted this information to the Department in August 2015. This survey included camera detection and hair tube sampling. No evidence of spot-tailed quolls was found at the site.
The site was also surveyed for habitat that is critical to the survival of the quoll. Quolls rely on suitable den sites such as log/tree hollows and small caves. Because the site was cleared of timber in the mid 1900s, few of these habitat features are present at the site, and in addition the site does not contain caves that could be used as dens.
After careful consideration of all information, and noting particularly the absence of suitable dens at the action site, the delegate determined that no conditions are required to protect the spot-tailed quoll.
Levels of government
The three levels of Australian government play different roles in making decisions about projects. The role of the Australian government is to make decisions on nationally protected matters, such as threatened species and ecological communities. State governments have a broader role and make decisions on a wider range of environmental issues and land use planning.
The Australian government’s legal powers under national environmental law are limited to the assessment of matters of national environmental significance. For this project these are threatened species and ecological communities.
The decision to allow the development of an industrial site in the area is a planning matter for state and local government.
Public comment periods
On 22 July 2013, the proposed action was referred to the Department and public comments were invited until 6 August 2013.
The draft preliminary documentation prepared by Wearco Pty Ltd (the proponent) was provided to the department on 17 December 2014 and was available for public comment between 23 February and 9 March 2015. Concerns raised included: impacts to listed threatened species and habitat, environmental surveys, proposed offsets, industrial development being located in a rural residential area and lack of adequate community consultation.
On 20 May 2015, the Department agreed to accept comments outside the public comment period and has taken into consideration further comments received during the assessment.
The Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project is an open-cut and underground coal mine located approximately 300 kilometres inland in remote central Queensland.
The project has been approved under national environment law subject to 36 strict conditions.
The Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project approval requires management plans, research plans and other requirements to be prepared and approved prior to various project milestones. A summary of these post approval requirements is available below.
Timeline on consideration of Adani Groundwater Plans
14 October 2015
The then Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, approved with conditions Adani Mining Pty Ltd’s (Adani) Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail project. The approval required the Minister to obtain advice from the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development.
|4 November 2016||First submission by Adani of Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Management Plan (GDEMP).|
|1 August 2017||
First submission by Adani of Groundwater Management and Monitoring Plan (GMMP). Following receipt of each plan the Department commenced its evaluation against the conditions of approval. Acknowledging the uncertainty regarding the source of the Doongmabullla Springs and the technical nature of the groundwater issues the Department commenced discussions with Geoscience Australia.
|12 October 2017||The Department received advice from Geoscience Australia (GA) on the GMMP.|
|25 October 2018||The Department sought expert technical advice from GA and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on updated versions of the GDEMP, GMMP, the Rewan Formation Connectivity Research Plan and Great Artesian Basin Springs Research Plan.|
|15 November 2018||The Department received GA and CSIRO’s initial advice on the Rewan Formation Connectivity Research Plan and Great Artesian Basin Springs Research Plan. From November 2018 to January 2019 Adani provided multiple updates of their GDEMP and GMMP to the Department.|
|4 January 2019||
The Department sought GA and CSIRO’s advice on Adani’s updated GDEMP and GMMP.
|22 February 2019||
The Department received GA and CSIRO’s final advice on the GDEMP, GMMP, the Rewan Formation Connectivity Research Plan and Great Artesian Basin Springs Research Plan.
The Department used the CSIRO and GA advice to supplement its own analysis of where the draft management plans needed to be amended to fully meet the conditions of approval. These proposed amendments were raised with Adani.
Not all of the issues raised by CSIRO and GA were relevant to Adani’s ability to fully satisfy the EPBC Act conditions of approval for the GDEMP and GMMP. Other aspects of GA and CSIRO’s advice will be addressed via: amendments to Adani’s Rewan Formation Connectivity Research Plan and Great Artesian Basin Springs Research Plan; through Queensland’s Environmental Authority requirements or in future updates of the groundwater model and plans.
|18 March 2019||
The Department received Adani’s amended GMMP.
|19 March 2019||
The Department received Adani’s amended GDEMP.
In summary, in their final groundwater management plans, Adani Mining Pty Ltd:
|1 April 2019||The Department finalised its considerations of the GDEMP and GMMP and recommended their approval to the Minister. The briefing provided to the Minister included background to the project, a description of the purpose of the plans, an overview of the plan submission and review process, an extensive analysis of the plans against each of the specific requirements of the conditions of approval and how GA and CSIRO’s advice had been appropriately addressed.|
|4 April 2019||The Minister requested that the Department meet with GA and CSIRO to seek their assurance that Adani’s final groundwater plans addressed the issues raised in their advice.|
|5 April 2019||
The Department briefed GA and then the CSIRO on how their advice had informed changes to the two Adani final groundwater management plans. The Department used the summary provided to guide its briefing of both agencies.
Following these briefings the Department provided CSIRO and GA with a copy of its summary and copies of the final GDEMP and GMMP.
|8 April 2019||The Minister for the Environment approved Adani’s groundwater management plans.|
|9 April 2019||The Minister announced that she had approved Adani’s groundwater management plans. The Queensland Department of the Environment and Science was provided with CSIRO and GA’s advice. The Department also published a statement available below.|
Statement on CSIRO and Geoscience groundwater advice - 9 April 2019
On 22 February 2019 the Department received the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia’s final advice on Adani Mining Pty Ltd's groundwater management and research plans. This advice was sought to inform the Department’s assessment of the management plans against the EPBC Act conditions of approval for the Carmichael mine and rail project.
The Department has briefed both CSIRO and Geoscience Australia on changes made by Adani Mining Pty Ltd in response to this advice to ensure that the groundwater management plans met the EPBC Act conditions of approval.
The CSIRO and Geoscience Australia have responded in the following way:
Departmental statement - 9 November 2015
In developing advice to inform the Minister's decision in October 2015 to approve the Adani Mining Pty Ltd's Carmichael mine, the Department conducted one of the most comprehensive considerations of a proponent's environmental history ever undertaken under the EPBC Act.
As part of its consideration, the Department sought relevant information from Adani Mining Pty Ltd and its three parent companies about environmental history over the last 10 years.
The scope of this request went well beyond what is required under the EPBC Act for a decision process, and reflects the robust approach that has been applied to this process.
The Department has received claims from an NGO about the environmental history of a company operating in another country, which has employed a now current executive of Adani Mining Pty Ltd. The Department is seeking clarification from Adani Mining Pty Ltd about this matter.
The Department's provisional advice is that this new information would not materially affect the validity of the approval decision, and that the 36 strict conditions imposed will fully protect matters of national environmental significance.
The Department is ensuring that these conditions are implemented, monitored and enforced in a transparent and robust manner.
The project was determined a controlled action under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) on 6 January 2011 for likely significant impacts on world and national heritage, wetlands of international importance, listed threatened species and ecological communities, listed migratory species and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (EPBC referral 2010/5736).
Following amendments to the EPBC Act on 24 October 2013, the Minister included the protection of water resources from a large coal mining development as a controlling provision for the project.
The project was assessed by Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the bilateral agreement with the Queensland Government.
- Queensland Coordinator-General’s assessment:
Public comment periods
The draft EIS for the proposed action was made available for public comment between 15 December 2012 and 11 February 2013. On 26 March 2013, the Queensland Coordinator-General requested that the proponent submit additional information to address the issues raised in the EIS. The additional information to the EIS was made available for public comment from 25 November 2013 to 20 December 2013.
The Watermark Coal Project is a new open cut coal mine proposed by Shenhua Watermark Coal Pty Ltd (Shenhua),located approximately 25 km south-east of Gunnedah, New South Wales (NSW).
- Watermark Coal Project - the facts (PDF - 532.01 KB)
- Watermark Coal Project - Frequently Asked Questions (PDF - 508.8 KB)
The project was determined a controlled action under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) on 22 December 2011 for likely significant impacts on migratory species and nationally threatened species and communities (EPBC referral 2011/6201).
The project was assessed through the accredited NSW Environmental Impact Assessment process under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act), which was coordinated by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE).
Following amendments to the EPBC Act on 24 October 2013, the Minister decided the protection of water resources from large coal mining development would also be a controlling provision for the project.
The draft Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Shenhua as part of the NSW assessment process was on public exhibition for a period of two months from 28 February 2013. Public submissions received on the draft Environmental Impact Statement were wide ranging and included comments regarding: impacts on water resources (groundwater and surface water); aboriginal heritage; socio-economic concerns; agricultural land; air quality; and biodiversity (amongst other matters). On 28 January 2015, NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) approved the project and the NSW Determination Report was published, triggering the period for final consideration under national environmental law.
Matters of National Environmental Significance – listed threatened species and ecological communities and migratory species
The Environmental Impact Statement included an assessment of potential ecological impacts, which included the critically endangered White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely's Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland (Box Gum Woodland) ecological community; and the endangered Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa) Grassy Woodlands and Derived Native Grasslands of South-eastern Australia (Grey Box Woodland) ecological community. These communities provide potential habitat for several EPBC-listed species including (but not limited to): the Regent Honeyeater, Spotted-tail Quoll, and the South-eastern Long-eared Bat.
Although the project area supports known koala habitat, this species was not listed under the EPBC Act when the project was determined a controlled action and hence cannot be considered as part of the approval process under national environmental law. The koala was, however, listed as a NSW threatened species at the time the project was submitted, and has been assessed accordingly under NSW environmental law.
Matters of National Environmental Significance – water resources
Advice on the proposed action from the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (the IESC) was requested on 12 March 2013, which was subsequently withdrawn and superseded by a request to the IESC on 17 April 2013 to ensure the IESC was able to fully reflect the Government's intention to amend the EPBC Act to provide greater protection for water resources impacted by coal seam gas and large coal mining developments. The IESC provided advice on the potential impacts to water resources as a result of the project in May 2013, which meets the requirement under the EPBC Act.
The IESC advice covered a range of issues, including impacts to groundwater and surface water, the adequacy of the groundwater model, the ongoing monitoring of groundwater and surface water resources, and cumulative impacts.
Given the additional studies and reviews of the groundwater model since the IESC provided advice on this project (in May 2013), on 26 February 2015 and 23 March 2015 the Commonwealth Environment Minister sought further independent advice from the IESC to consider the potential impacts in relation to water resources.
Request and advice documents
- Request to IESC for advice 12 March 2013
- Request to IESC for advice 17 April 2013
- IESC advice to decision maker May 2013
- Request to IESC for advice 26 February 2015
- Request to IESC for advice 23 March 2015
The additional advice on the Watermark Coal Project requested from the IESC was provided to the Minister on 27 April 2015.
- Advice to decision maker on coal mining project - IESC 2015-066 and 2015-067 - Watermark Coal Project (EPBC 2011/6201)
Approval under the EPBC Act
The Minister carefully considered the NSW assessment, the advice of the IESC, the advice of the Department and all public comments received before deciding whether this proposal could go ahead. On 4 July 2015, the Minister approved the Watermark Coal Project with 18 strict environmental conditions to protect water resources and listed threatened species and ecological communities.
Statement of Reasons
On 21 August 2015, the Minister released a Statement of Reasons for the approval decision.
This table contains links to documents which are referenced in the footnotes section of the Watermark Coal Project Statement of Reasons, where available.
|3||Environmental Impact Statement|
|4, 27||Response to submissions|
|5, 6, 55, 56||NSW Assessment Report and NSW Addendum to Assessment Report|
|7, 21, 22, 23, 24||NSW Conditions of consent|
|8||NSW Planning Assessment Commission review report|
|9||NSW Planning Assessment Commission determination|
|10||Request for IESC advice 12 March 2013
Request for IESC advice 17 April 2013
|11||IESC 2013 advice|
|12||Request for IESC advice 26 February 2015|
|14||Request for IESC advice 23 March 2015|
|15, 52, 54||IESC 2015 advice|
|34||Species Profile and Threats Database record for Box Gum Woodland|
|25, 30, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53, 57||Approval Decision Notice|
Links to further information
The new Western Sydney Airport, to be located in Badgerys Creek is a major infrastructure project that will cater for ongoing growth in demand for air travel, particularly in the rapidly expanding western Sydney region. It is expected to provide a range of social and economic benefits to individuals, businesses and communities throughout Sydney.
Stage 1 of the new airport will consist of a single runway and associated facilities, initially catering for up to 10 million passengers per year.
It has been decided that a strict set of more than 40 environmental conditions, addressing environmental issues across biodiversity, noise and heritage, must be adopted for Stage 1 of the proposed airport to proceed. This is as comprehensive a set of conditions as placed by the Commonwealth on any airport in the country.
The recommended conditions have been informed by a thorough and rigorous review of the environmental impact statement and draft Airport Plan, a site visit and meetings with key local leaders to hear firsthand the issues important to the community.
Extensive consultation was carried out during the development of the environmental impact statement where there were around 5,000 submissions and 16 community information events across nine different council areas in Western Sydney.
The comprehensive set of more than 40 conditions to protect the environment will:
- ensure the airspace design explicitly addresses a range of environmental factors, including minimising the impact of noise on residential areas, the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and other sensitive locations;
- build on the measures and plans outlined in the environmental impact statement, to ensure a comprehensive environmental management framework to minimise and manage environmental impacts during construction and operation of the airport;
- provide a comprehensive package of up to $180 million in biodiversity offsets in consultation with ecology experts;
- ensure that fuel supply options compare the social, economic and environmental costs, savings and benefits of road transport to alternatives including a fuel pipeline with a review of this matter to commence by the end of 2017; and
- require a $10 million contribution to a native seed program run by Greening Australia. This innovative program will future proof seed supply in Western Sydney to support conservation replanting programs on Western Sydney’s Cumberland Plain.
On 12 December 2016 the Prime Minister and the Minister for Urban Infrastructure announced the determination of the final Airport Plan for the Western Sydney Airport. The final Airport Plan authorises the construction and operation of Stage 1 of the new airport and incorporates all environmental conditions set by the Minister for the Environment and Energy. The environmental conditions must be complied with, regardless of the developer, to ensure a safe, effective and environmentally sound airport can be delivered.
Links to further information:
- The final Airport Plan is available on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website (includes complete set of Commonwealth conditions including the environmental conditions) – westernsydneyairport.gov.au
- Environment assessment documents – http://epbcnotices.environment.gov.au/referralslist/referral-details/?id=bd953c7e-4c67-e511-b4b8-005056ba00ab
- Minister Frydenberg media release – More than 40 strict environmental conditions set for proposed Western Sydney Airport
The Abbot Growth Gateway Project is a proposal from the Queensland Department of State Development (the proponent) to undertake capital dredging, onshore placement and reuse of dredged material at Abbot Point, 25 km north of Bowen, North Queensland (EPBC 2015/7467).
Approval under the EPBC Act
On 21 December 2015, the Minister for the Environment approved the Abbot Point Growth Gateway project with 29 strict environmental conditions.
Further information on the approval including the full set of conditions, a fact sheet, frequently asked questions, statement of the Minister’s reasons for making the decision and the Department’s recommendation report to the Minister are available at the links below:
- Abbot Point Growth Gateway project: Fact sheet (PDF - 1.11 MB) | (DOCX - 17.67 KB)
- Abbot Point Growth Gateway project: FAQ (PDF - 1.1 MB) | (DOCX - 19.02 KB)
- Final Approval Decision
- Statement of Reasons
- Department’s Recommendation Report
The proposal is for capital dredging of approximately 1.1 million cubic metres to support the development of the Abbot Point Terminal 0. Dredged material will be managed onshore in containment areas located on industrial land, for future beneficial reuse within the Abbot Point State Development Area. The proposal avoids the requirement for dredge disposal on the Caley Valley Wetlands or within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
On 14 May 2015, the Minister determined the project was a controlled action under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) for likely significant impacts on World Heritage properties; National Heritage places; listed threatened species and communities; listed migratory species; Commonwealth marine areas; and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The project was assessed by Environmental Impact Statement under the EPBC Act. The environmental impact assessment process under the EPBC Act is rigorous and transparent.
The draft environmental impact statement prepared by Queensland Department of State Development was published from 21 August 2015 to 18 September 2015.
On 26 October 2015, the Queensland Department of State Development submitted the final Environmental Impact Statement addressing all relevant concerns raised through the public consultation process, triggering the period for final consideration under national environmental law.