THE Environmental Protection Authority received more than 1800 public comments in less than a week after Woodside submitted plans for its LNG processing facility at James Price Point as the first “derived proposal” in WA.
The Department of State Development’s strategic assessment for the gas precinct, approved by Environment Minister Bill Marmion, allows multiple users of liquefied natural gas to occupy a single site, and considers cumulative effects.
It allows companies to submit future development plans as derived ones which do not require further environmental approval.
Critics claim it would allow the gas plant to be built without further environmental scrutiny.
The 1528ha development within the precinct will include construction of a 25 million tonne per year LNG processing, infrastructure treatment and CO2 removal facilities, processing trains, and hydrocarbon storage, effluent treatment and discharge facilities.
Workers’ accommodation, roads and marine structures, including pipelines, a shipping channel, jetties, breakwaters and supply boat facilities will also be built.
Wilderness Society WA spokesman Peter Robertson said for the EPA to declare the proposal “derived”, environmental management plans showing how conditions would be implemented must be close to finalised but Woodside had submitted no such plans.
Woodside had said the proposal was not in an existing or proposed conservation area, though Mr Robertson challenged this claim.
He said the EPA had noted previous government recommendations that land which would be in the southern part of the precinct should be added to the Coulomb Point Nature Reserve to create a “Dampierland National Park”.
“It is very apparent the many reports, studies and plans the EPA said needed to be provided at the time of any application for a derived proposal have not been supplied,” Mr Robertson said.
Public comments received on Woodside’s proposal dwarfed the record 240 appeals submitted on the precinct strategic assessment.
EPA chairman Paul Vogel and deputy chairman Professor Robert Harvey must now decide whether the proposal fits within the strictly defined precinct footprint and can be declared derived.
Mr Vogel said the EPA would consider whether more assessment was warranted if significant or new information was raised.
The final decision on the precinct rests with Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke.
A Woodside spokesman said the company believed its management plans and strategies would ensure Browse LNG could co-exist with West Kimberley environment, culture and heritage values.