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LNG companies reject allegations made on Four Corners

The easement for QGC pipelines on Curtis Island.
The easement for QGC pipelines on Curtis Island.

LNG companies featured in a Four Corners program on the ABC on Monday night have rejected allegations the approvals process for their Curtis Island projects was rushed.

A spokeswoman for Santos GLNG said the environmental impact statement for the project represented a comprehensive three-and-a-half year process.

"This resulted in the project being given 1200 conditions, including additional sub-conditions, subjecting it to some of the most stringent environmental regulation in the country," she said.

QGC also rejected the Four Corners story, saying it had been through a three-and-a-half year approval process.

Read QGC's full response to Four Corners here.

Senior environmental specialist Simone Marsh appeared on the program and claimed the approval processes for Santos GLNG and QGC LNG projects had been rushed.

The projects will draw coal seam gas from inland Queensland and pipe it to Curtis Island, where it will be processed into liquefied natural gas.

Ms Marsh was part of the Queensland Government team that handled the approvals in 2010.

"(Government) had decided they wanted to go ahead with the projects and there was nothing stopping it," she said.

Ms Marsh told the Four Corners program she did not have any of the basic site information, baseline studies and details about infrastructure placement which were necessary to properly assess the environmental impact of the projects.

"They wanted approval to come in and conduct that activity," she said.

"They didn't want anyone to understand what the long-term impacts were going to be and the long-term costs associated with this activity."

The program said 900 pages of documents obtained through a freedom of information request supported Ms Marsh's claims.

One document, dated May 4, 2010, was sent by the DPI to the Coordinator-General and related to the Santos project.

"As advised previously, not all the 'usual' information is available," the document says.

"This has been difficult and uncertain without the full suite of information normally available."

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesman Drew Hutton said the program had revealed "not only a hasty and incompetent process in the approval of thousands of coal seam gas wells in Queensland in 2010, but also a potentially illegal one".

The key breach occurred with the failure by coal seam gas companies to provide the Queensland Government with sufficient information to enable a valid environmental authority to be provided, he said.

Mr Hutton and Ms Marsh have taken complaints about the process to the state's Crime and Misconduct Commission.

"Any public servant who has signed an environmental authority for any of these projects has breached several sections of the Environmental Protection Act and, therefore, is likely to have committed official misconduct," Mr Hutton said.

"This situation came about because of improper political pressure that was placed on the public servants, as Simone Marsh has described."

Mr Hutton thanked Queensland Premier Campbell Newman for joining his and Ms Marsh's complaint to the CMC, and believed the CMC should hold a full, open, public inquiry.

"This is the biggest public policy failure I have seen in my 40 years of public life, and deserves the sort of public inquiry that ICAC is currently conducting into mining activities in New South Wales," Mr Hutton said.

Topics:  curtis island, editors picks, glng, lng, qgc, resources, santos




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