There’s a complexity involved in project approval processes that can be confusing.
Dense legislative and regulatory regimes mean that project proponents must adhere to hundreds of separate requirements to submit an application for approval.
In some cases, there are shades of grey in the regulatory requirements – and that is often the trigger for changes to policy that clear up the confusion.
And so it was last week when the New South Wales Government flagged changes to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extraction Industries) 2007.
According to the Government, the changes, which are now on public exhibition until 16 July, aim to:
- ensure a consistent approach to transitional arrangements for the Gateway process
- adjust CSG exclusion zone mapping – an additional 19 properties are proposed to be added to the viticulture Critical Industry Cluster
- clarify that minor modifications of existing CSG projects within CSG exclusion zones, which do not enlarge, expand or intensify CSG development are permissible
- clarify the application of State significant development criteria for CSG exploration wells
There’s a good explanation of the intention of the changes on the Department of Planning & Environment’s website.
It’s unfortunate that these changes have been interpreted by some as ‘creating a loophole’ to fast track hydraulic fracturing.
Worse still, at least one activist group – Lock the Gate – goes a step further, claiming that the law has already been changed – a claim aimed at grabbing a headline more than anything else.
Contrary to Lock the Gate’s contention, there is an opportunity for public input into the proposed changes – that’s why it’s called a public consultation period.
AGL’s response to the issue can be found here.