The QCLNG site on Curtis Island.
The QCLNG site on Curtis Island. David Sparkes

Curtis Island LNG approvals process called into question

THE approvals process undergone by the three LNG projects on Gladstone's Curtis Island has been called into question, with reports of public servants being given impossible deadlines to approve Queensland's huge coal seam gas industry.

News Ltd reports that as the $18 billion Santos GLNG project was nearing its approval in May 2010, public servants under the Bligh regime were hit with the demands from the government to also tackle the $16 billion QGC project, and then the Origin-led APLNG proposal, approved in November of the same year.

A May 2010 email to then-treasurer Andrew Fraser from director-general Ian Fletcher warned the QGC project could be scrapped if the approvals process dragged out. 

The approvals process now may be headed to the Crime and Misconduct Commission after Premier Campbell Newman backed calls for an inquiry.

Environment group Save the Reef says political pressure and staff cutbacks have increased workloads on the public service under the Newman Government, and it was concerned the same thing would happen with a fourth LNG plant proposed for Curtis Island by Arrow.

Save the Reef spokeswoman Libby Connors said it was disturbing to note a government spokesperson was reported as stating the industry was operating "with no evidence of significant environmental damage or adverse outcomes".  

"We think investigation of cumulative impacts on Gladstone Harbour and the regulation of dredging and other construction impacts from the LNG plants is urgently needed," Dr Connors said.

"At the moment a fourth LNG plant is not environmentally sustainable."

Dr Connors said the group endorsed calls for a CMC inquiry into the approvals process and government regulation of the coal seam gas industry. 

"It is pretty clear that the rushed approvals process did not allow the department to adequately assess all effects, and now our world wonder, our tourism icon, the Great Barrier Reef, and the $6 billion dollars it brings in every year is in danger." 

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