Environmental offsets for LNG
Yesterday The Observer asked the office of the Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to explain what environmental offsets were required to counter the impacts of the LNG projects on Gladstone Harbour.
A UNESCO report released on Saturday said not enough environmental offsets are in place.
The minister office today provided the following outline. It is presented here in full.
In October 2010 and February 2011, the Minister approved the Port of Gladstone Western Basin Strategic Dredging and Disposal project as well as three Coal Seam Gas Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities to be constructed at the southern end of Curtis Island, facing Gladstone Harbour.
- The LNG approvals included the connection of the facilities to the mainland via pipelines across the Narrows (the channel between Curtis Island and the mainland), in addition to associated gas fields developments, gas pipelines and shipping activities. Curtis Island and the Narrows are part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA).
- Among other matters, the approvals included detailed conditions requiring offsets for each project. Approximately 20 conditions attached to each of the project approvals relate specifically to offsetting impacts within the GBRWHA.
- Offset requirements were imposed after a detailed environmental assessment process which included consultation with the public and relevant Commonwealth and state regulatory agencies.
- The offsets compensate for a range of direct and indirect impacts on matters of national environmental significance including listed threatened species and ecological communities, listed migratory species, and the World Heritage and National Heritage values of the GBRWHA.
- The offsets the Minister has required include both direct offsets (land-based) and indirect offsets (funding for research or other activity).
- LNG project Direct offsets:
- For the LNG facilities on Curtis Island, offsets must be provided at a ratio of no less than five times the area of habitat being impacted. This equates to a combined offset of over 3,700 ha for the three projects.
- For the pipeline and shipping activities, offsets must be provided to compensate for unavoidable impacts on listed threatened species and ecological communities, listed migratory species and the World Heritage and National Heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef.
Details of offsets must be provided by the three coal seam gas companies in environmental offsets plans. These plans must be approved by the Minister.
- LNG project Indirect offsets:
- Each proponent must make a contribution of $200,000 per annum for the life of the project, plus $100,000 per annum for each operating LNG train, for field management and to promote visitor awareness of the GBRWHA.
- In addition, each proponent must contribute $150,000 towards a long term marine turtle management plan.
- Santos and the Queensland Gas Company must also contribute $250,000 each to Gladstone Ports Corporation's migratory bird research study.
- Dredging project offsets
- 3,000 ha of land at Port Alma to be protected in perpetuity.
- Must include measures to not less than $5 million for the protection of EPBC Act listed threatened and migratory species, habitat enhancement and restoration actions, wetland rehabilitation projects and water quality improvement programs.
- A strategic vessel management plan for Port Curtis to regulate boating speeds and movement must be developed as well as a seagrass conservation plan.
- An Ecosystem Research and Monitoring Program (ERMP) designed to acquire a detailed ecological understanding of the marine environment that can be used to manage the regional marine environment and to offset potential impacts from the project on EPBC Act matters of national environmental significance.
- The ERMP includes research and monitoring programs to be funded by Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC). GPC will fund no less than $2 million on migratory shorebird monitoring and research and no less than $5 million on marine megafauna.
- Links to each of the relevant approvals, containing more detail regarding these offsets, are:
- APLNG pipeline http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/assessments/2009/4976/approval-decision.pdf
- APLNG LNG plant, marine facilities and shipping http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/assessments/2009/4977/approval-decision.pdf
- Santos pipeline http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/assessments/2008/4096/approval-4096.pdf
- Santos LNG plant http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/assessments/2008/4057/approval-4057.pdf
- Santos marine facilities and shipping
- QGC pipeline http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/assessments/2008/4399/approval-4399.pdf
- QGC LNG facilities http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/assessments/2008/4402/approval-4402.pdf
- QGC marine facilities http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/assessments/2008/4401/approval-4401.pdf
- QGC shipping http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/assessments/2008/4405/approval-4405.pdf
- GPC dredging http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/assessments/2009/4904/approval.pdf