Environment Minister Sussan Ley needs to give endangered animals along the Queensland-Hunter Gas Pipeline route a fighting chance and haul the project in for the highest assessment possible in light of new evidence, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
Lock the Gate Alliance recently wrote a letter to Minister Ley, highlighting new evidence showing the presence of the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater, the endangered Booroolong Frog, and the threatened Spotted Tailed Quoll, among others, along the pipeline’s 620km NSW section.
Worryingly, these species weren’t even considered when the decision was made in late 2008 not to assess the project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. What’s more, due to the nature of the Act, the now endangered koala, while present along the route, cannot be legally considered because it wasn’t a listed species when the original decision was made.
Media has reported today that the Minister is re-considering the decision not to assess the project under the Act, and Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said it was the bare minimum that needed to occur.
She said the same report that recently found evidence of the endangered species also found that if built, the pipeline would severely impact 31 Aboriginal Cultural Heritage sites along its route, and rip up some of the nation’s best cropping country.
“In a fair and just world, a project as destructive as the Hunter Gas Pipeline would never be permitted,” she said.
“Instead, we now find ourselves in a bizarre situation where a project approved 13 years ago, but not yet built, could go ahead without undergoing a thorough environmental assessment.
“With Santos recently receiving approval to build its polluting Narrabri gasfield, the threat of this pipeline being built is real.
“The Morrison Government must reassess the impacts of the Hunter Gas Pipeline, given it was approved 13 years ago and new information has emerged regarding its likely significant impact on iconic and threatened species like the Regent Honeyeater.
“Relying on an assessment that is now nearly a decade and a half old is a disgrace, and Minister Ley must step up and demand an Environmental Impact Statement is prepared that addresses all the threats the Hunter Gas Pipeline poses."