Government, councils respond to Santos Narrabri coal seam gas development

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More than a dozen government agencies and councils made submissions about Santos’ Narrabri coal seam gas development, and while most remain neutral to the project, they did highlight a range of issues. 

Based on its experience with the mining sector, Gunnedah Shire Council said it had concerns about the wider impact of the project.

“While the EIS notes the social infrastructure and services challenges, it does not say how they will be impacted or propose any mitigation measures,” Gunnedah Shire’s development and planning manager, Carolyn Hunt wrote.

“Council would anticipate that employees will also reside in the Gunnedah LGA. The document also fails to acknowledge the existing services with the Gunnedah LGA, such as Gunnedah Hospital, and the impact of the development on the health and education services in the region.”

NSW Health said based on the nature and scale of the operation, and its distance from townships, it expected there would be “minimal impacts on human health”. However, it did request further clarification on the air quality assessments.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries “did not identify any critical issues that would result in DPI recommending the project should not proceed”.

“However, a number of matters have been identified that should be further addressed to ensure that the project can be appropriately monitored and managed with appropriate conditions,” the department said in its submission.

“While the impact to agricultural industries in the Narrabri shire is considered low as the area proposed to be removed from productivity is relatively small and of lower productive potential for the shire it should be noted that the Agricultural Impact Statement for the project has not been prepared in accordance to the [state guidelines].”

The NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended the noise assessment be amended to make Santos meet noise management levels outside the standard hours for all construction noise, and requested the company to clarify several aspects of its noise assessment.

EPA also wants more detail about how Santos plans to manage the tonnes of salt that will be extracted, and says the company needed a back-up plan to deal with the waste if the preferred options fall through.