The Lock the Gate Alliance has welcomed the Federal Environment Minister’s decision to apply the new Commonwealth law protecting water resources from coal mining and coal seam gas to nearly fifty resource projects seeking Government approval, but warns the real test is yet to come.
The new ‘water trigger’ in the Federal Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act came into force in late June, but a question mark has remained, till now, over 50 coal and gas projects that were already in the assessment process.
The Minister has announced today that that 47 of the 50 transitional projects will require federal environmental assessment of their impacts on water resources.
Lock the Gate Alliance Campaign Co-ordinator, Carmel Flint, said, “This is a welcome decision by the Federal Government, and one that makes a lot of sense, but the real test is still to come.
“We know that State Governments have not properly assessed the water impacts of many coal and gas projects.
"Regional communities will be relying on the Environment Minister to now apply rigorous assessment and decision making, so that projects do not proceed if they pose unacceptable risks to groundwater.
“Communities facing the coal and gas onslaught are very anxious about plans by the new Federal Government to fast-track mining developments to the detriment of the community.
"While we welcome Minister Hunt’s move today, it is at odds with the combative approach that we’ve seen from Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane this week towards regional communities struggling with the impacts of coal and gas mining.”
“The water trigger is only going to be an effective protection if the Environment Minister chooses to make it so. Rural industries, whole towns and groundwater dependent regions are waiting and watching to ensure he doesn’t let them down" she said.