Island assessment not political

THE additional three months that Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett has put on his environmental assessments of LNG projects on Curtis Island have nothing to do with the election, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan.

Since Mr Garrett’s announcement, speculation has been rife as to whether environmental approval of the coal seam gas (CSG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry off Gladstone had become political.

Speaking exclusively to the Observer, Mr Swan said he is not going to speculate about the time of the election.

“This is an important industry and it has a lot going for it,” Mr Swan said.

“It’s important that environmental approvals are done correctly and precisely because it’s important for industry and the local community so everyone can have confidence.

“As we go forward the growing industry is part and parcel with the community and it is important to make sure it is approved with the confidence of the whole community.”

Southern media speculated the delay could push what is a potentially thorny political decision out beyond the next general election.

A spokesman for Mr Garrett said these are the first coal seam gas LNG projects that have been assessed under national environment law, and it’s important that the potentially significant environmental impacts of this project on nationally protected matters are properly assessed. 

“This additional timeframe will provide that opportunity as well as a chance for further information to be provided including in the areas identified as deficient in the Queensland co-ordinator-general’s report,” the spokesperson said.

“This is the same approach the minister has adopted for other major development proposals like the Gorgon development, which was approved last year.”

Challenges caused by turning CSG into LNG include managing water that has to be extracted from the coal seams to get the gas to flow to the surface.

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