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January 28, 2021

Legal obstacle to Narrabri Gas Project

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Local farmers at anti-Santos demostration, Pilliga Forest. Photo David Lowe.

A community group has launched a legal appeal against the NSW Independent Planning Commission’s (IPC’s) approval of the controversial Narrabri Gas Project, in the state’s north west.

In September, in spite of overwheming community and expert opposition, the IPC granted staged approval for the Santos-owned project, involving hundreds of CSG wells over a 95,000-hectare area near Narrabri.

The 25-year Narrabri Gas Project would contribute greenhouse gas emissions in the order of 127 million tonnes (CO2 equivalent), at a time when the science says there is an urgent need for rapid emissions reductions.

Class 4 Judicial Review proceedings have now been lodged in the NSW Land and Environment Court by the Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord (MGPA), represented by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO).

MGPA is a group of around 100 residents and primary producer businesses from the town of Mullaley, south of Narrabri, and surrounding districts, who have been fighting invasive gasfields for many years. The group are particularly concerned about the Narrabri project’s impacts on the climate, local agriculture, natural resources and their livelihoods.

EDO’s case

According to the EDO, the case broadly relates to two aspects of the IPC’s decision on the Project.

First, the failure of the IPC to consider the likely environmental impacts of the transmission pipeline which will be necessary for the project to proceed, and second the failure of the IPC to properly engage with the Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the project and their consequent impact on climate change and the environment.

EDO Director of Legal Strategy, Elaine Johnson said, ‘Our clients will ask the court to find that the IPC erred in its decision making, including because it failed to properly assess the climate impacts from this project.

Some of the locals opposing the gas project. Photo Tree Faerie.

‘For example, our client says that instead of looking at how the greenhouse gas emissions from the Narrabri Gas Project would contribute to global warming and worsening climate impacts, the IPC looked at whether gas has an emissions advantage over coal.

‘Further, our client alleges there was no evidence before the IPC that the Narrabri Gas Project would in fact displace coal as a source of electricity generation.

‘Our client also argues that the IPC’s consent does not include an assessment of the impacts of the transmission pipeline that will need to be built to get the gas to the east coast market.

‘Our client will therefore ask the court to find that the approval for the Narrabri Gas Project is invalid,’ said Ms Johnson.

You can learn more about the reasons for community opposition to Santos at Narrabri in Cloudcatcher Media’s film Sacrifice Zone, below:

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  1. How dare you?? You can’t do that! Think of all that money that poor Mr Barnaby Joyce will miss out on since he owns a great chunk of the land under consideration.

  2. Whilst I can’t speak for the Koalas ( sorry, tree rats according to John Barilaro ) I’d imagine they would be having a schadenfreude moment. They / the Koala are on a pathway to destruction thanks to us Humans and at the same time they watch us Humans setting our very own pathway to destruction with this endless digging, scraping and burning of fossil fuels.

  3. Details of this critical legal initiative must be widely disseminated so that media coverage alerts the community to what’s at stake. Government (and Murdoch) strategy of keeping us all distracted by COVID leaves little airtime for anything else, and these opportunistic chancers are making the most of this ongoing cover.


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