The West

UPDATE 2.10pm: The Environmental Protection Authority has approved Woodside's proposed gas processing plant within the James Price Point gas precinct as WA's first-ever derived proposal.

EPA chairman Dr Paul Vogel and deputy chairman Professor Robert Harvey determined that the proposal fitted within the strictly defined precinct footprint and could be declared as derived.

Dr Vogel said no new environmental issues about the project had been raised in 1800 public comments on Woodside's proposal to construct and operate a 25 million tonne per annum LNG processing facility and associated infrastructure.

The Department of State Development's strategic proposal approved by Environment Minister Bill Marmion allows for multiple LNG users to be co-located on a single sit and for cumulative environmental effects to be considered derived.

Dr Vogel said "rigorous evaluation" of Woodside's proposal had not uncovered any significant new or additional information that justified reassessment.

"The public comment period was an opportunity for the public to outline whether this proposal should or should not be declared a derived proposal and their reasons to support their view," Dr Vogel said.

Under the Act, the decision cannot be appealed.

The final environmental decision on the Precinct will be made by the Commonwealth Environment Minister.

Earlier this month, environmentalists criticised the proposition, claiming it would allow Woodside's gas plant to be built without further environmental scrutiny.

The 1528ha development within the precinct will include construction of a 25mtpa LNG processing facility and infrastructure treatment and CO2 removal facilities; processing trains, hydrocarbon storage and 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.

A spokesman for Woodside welcomed the EPA’s decision.

He said Woodside expected to be in a position to make a final investment decision on the proposed LNG Development in the first half of 2013.

Shares in the company closed down 12 cents at $33.88 in a broadly firmer market.

However The Wilderness Society's Kimberley spokeswoman Heidi Nore said it was not possible for the EPA to have examined more than 1800 separate public submissions in less than two weeks as it had claimed and the process had been “substandard from the outset”.

“The EPA has completely overlooked major issues such as groundwater use and dredging – these issues have never been adequately assessed,” she said.

“Given the EPA’s conduct over the course of the James Price Point assessment, we are no longer surprised about the EPA’s approval of Woodside’s application.”

She said the watchdog had allowed Woodside to submit an incomplete application without required management plans or consultation.

The West Australian

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