The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Browse Assessment Process

abarrelfullabarrelfull wrote on 15 Jun 2011 07:06
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The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is formally assessing, as a strategic proposal, the Browse liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing precinct at James Price Point, on the Dampier Peninsula north of Broome. This is a joint assessment with the Commonwealth.
Release Date: 13 June 2011

In 2008, the EPA issued advice under section 16(e) of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 about the relative environmental issues of four sites in the Kimberley proposed for an LNG precinct. That advice did not comprise a formal assessment, but provided the EPA’s view at the time, based on the information then available.

On behalf of the State, the Northern Development Task Force (NDT), had earlier conducted a process of stakeholder consultation and consideration of over 40 candidate sites for an LNG precinct. The sites considered by the NDT ranged across the Kimberley and included consideration of alternatives in the Pilbara and the Northern Territory.

The candidate locations were narrowed down to 11 sites and then a short list of 4 sites. The EPA’s 2008 report considered this short list of sites, which were Gourdon Bay, James Price Point, North Head and Anjo Peninsula. At that time the EPA concluded that:

“Based on the available data, the EPA considers that Gourdon Bay is the least environmentally constrained of all four short-listed sites for a gas processing precinct.” The EPA went on to say:

“Based on the available data, the EPA considers that the James Price Point area is the least environmentally constrained of the two short- listed sites on the Dampier Peninsula for a gas processing precinct.” The EPA further stated that;

“The environmental impacts and risks of locating a precinct in the James Price Point area are likely to be manageable. The risk of future expansion being significantly constrained is likely to be low.”

The North Head and Anjo Peninsula sites were not considered environmentally suitable by the EPA.

On 22 December, 2008 the Premier announced James Price Point had been chosen as the site for a liquefied natural gas precinct in the Kimberley. It is therefore the James Price Point site that is the subject of the current formal assessment as a strategic proposal.

The proponent for the precinct is the Minister for State Development. The Department of State Development (DSD) is managing the proposal on behalf of the State. Woodside Energy Limited has been appointed as a potential foundation proponent for the precinct.

Assessment of a strategic proposal requires the EPA to carefully consider the significant environmental risks and impacts of the strategic proposal and provide advice to the Minister for Environment on whether or not the proposal could be implemented and any environmental conditions that it considers should apply. The Minister for Environment makes the decision about whether the proposal may proceed and under what conditions.

A Strategic Assessment Report was prepared by DSD and released for public comment for 15 weeks. The public comment period closed on 28 March 2011. The DSD is now responding to issues raised in those submissions. When the EPA receives adequate responses to those public submissions, it will undertake its detailed assessment of the proposal.

If the Minister for Environment decides that the strategic proposal may proceed, the foundation proponent (or others) may refer to the EPA a specific proposal to construct an LNG facility and request that it is deemed to be a ‘derived’ proposal. The EPA would carefully consider whether the newly referred proposal meets a number of tests, including:

  • Is the newly referred proposal identified in the strategic proposal?
  • Did the Minister decide on the strategic proposal, that the referred proposal could be implemented?
  • Are environmental issues raised by the referred proposal adequately addressed in the assessment of the strategic proposal?
  • Is there any significant new or additional information that justifies further assessment of the referred proposal?
  • Has there been a significant change in the key environmental factors since the assessment of the strategic proposal?

If the EPA decides that the answers to the first three points are ‘yes’ and to the last two ‘no’, then it would decide that the newly referred proposal could be considered a derived proposal. A derived proposal does not require further assessment. The EPA would however, consider and advise the Minister about which conditions applied to the strategic proposal should be applied to the derived proposal and whether any conditions should be changed.

If the Minister for Environment decided that the strategic proposal may be implemented, any request for an EPA decision on whether a newly referred proposal could be a derived proposal would be made available to the public, with provision to comment on whether or not it is likely to meet the tests above.

Dr Paul Vogel

Visit the Department of State Development's Browse LNG Precint page for more information.

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