A Queensland group known as the Western Downs Alliance (WDA) has begun legal proceedings to challenge the approval of Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt of Santos Group’s plan to drill 6,100 coal seam gas (CSG) wells to support the Gladstone LNG (GLNG) plant on Curtis Island.
The Santos-led GLNG gas field development and expansion has earmarked about 1 million hectares of land in the Surat-Bowen basins stretching from Roma east to Taroom and Wandoan and north towards Rolleston for the wells that will provide future gas supplies to the group’s LNG plant.
WDA has lodged its challenge in the Federal Court of Australia against the approval under the national environment law. It argues that the minister’s approval was unlawful because he ignored plans by Santos to discharge large volumes of water produced with the CSG into the Dawson River.
WDA says the plan is a recipe for disaster for the Great Artesian basin and for landholders who depend on it. The group cites the GLNG environmental impact statement that states the development will extract a total of 219 billion l. of water and produce 22 billion l. of salty water as waste over the life of the project.
A WDA spokesperson said the water resources, particularly those of the nationally significant Great Artesian basin, are too important to be put at risk for s short-term industry like CSG.
This is the first challenge of its kind in Australia.