Projects on track for October 22

FEDERAL environmental approval of two liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects earmarked for Curtis Island is set for October 22.

Environment Minister Tony Burke made the decision on the weekend just two weeks after speaking to The Observer, when he stated that he would make a decision in October, but not the October 11 deadline set by former environment minister Peter Garret, as reported by southern media.

“I visited Gladstone and Chinchilla last week to meet with representatives of the community, local council and the proponent,” Mr Burke told The Observer yesterday.

“I have decided to extend the date for my final decision for the Queensland Gas Corporation (QGC) and Santos LNG projects to ensure that I fully consider all relevant matters under the EPBC Act.”

Some media reports have suggested that the move could jeopardise the operators’ ability to secure investment approval by the end of the year; however, a spokesperson for QGC told The Observer that QGC remains committed to considering a final investment decision in 2010 after it has received acceptable environmental conditions.

“We remain confident of a decision within that timeframe,” the spokesperson said.

Santos is a little more sceptical, saying that they were always expecting a decision from the minister in October.

“A decision in October will enable the GLNG partners to make our final investment decision on the project this year,” a Santos spokesperson said.

Roanne Karlsen, from the Gladstone Environmental Protection Group (GEPG), said October 22 is not enough time for Mr Burke to consider the environmental impact the LNG industry is going to have on Curtis Island.

“One would think that like Mr Garrett, Mr Burke would need at least few months to be able to comprehend the impact in order to make an educated decision,” she said.

Gladstone Economic and Industry Development Board (GEIDB) chief executive Dr Ken King said the environmental approval decision is critical for the industry and the Gladstone community.

“However, these are large and complex projects and Minister Burke has indicated his need to further consider all relevant matters,” Dr King said.

“We look forward to a positive outcome within the revised timeframe and the GEIDB will continue to work with all levels of government, industry and the community with a focus on investment, growth and job opportunities for Gladstone.”

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