Friday, December 19, 2008

Environmental Protection Authority has released early environmental advice

The Environmental Protection Authority has released early environmental advice on the Western Australian Government's site evaluation process for a multi-user liquefied natural gas processing precinct to process gas resources from the Browse Basin on the Kimberley coast.

EPA Chairman Paul Vogel said that, based on available data, of the four sites under consideration environmental risks and impacts are likely to be manageable at two sites, Gourdon Bay south of Broome and James Price Point north of Broome on the Dampier Peninsula."The other two sites, North Head and Anjo Peninsula are not considered suitable for large scale industrial development from an environmental point of view, Anjo peninsula also has wildness values that would be threatened," Dr Vogel said.'

North Head has nearby settlements likely to be affected by emissions and whale calving and resting grounds immediately offshore.'In formulating the report the EPA has taken into account advice on the size of precinct that may be needed as, once established, the site is likely to attract further large proposals in the future.

'For James Price Point the risk of future expansion being significantly constrained is likely to be low, at Gourdon Bay future expansion may be limited by the frontage available with direct access to deep water if the precinct is laid out with jetties south of Cape Latouche Treville.

'The EPA also strongly supports evaluation of the national heritage values of the Kimberley with a view to conserving and protecting significant, representative marine and terrestrial areas and determining opportunities for joint management between Government and traditional owners; it is important that this is done in parallel with the LNG precinct assessment process.

'There are also a number of important issues that have been raised through the site evaluation process and the public submissions period which are best addressed by other government agencies; issues in relation to the downstream planning and infrastructure needs of the precinct, pressures on the coastal environment from an influx of people and socio-economic impacts.

'The sites examined in the EPA's report have not been subject to formal environmental assessment. A formal environmental assessment of a strategic proposal will be undertaken to fulfil this requirement for whichever site is chosen.

Future proposals which are brought forward and which fit within the assessed strategic proposal, known as derived proposals, will not generally be subject to further assessment by the EPA.'Any additional developments requiring an increase in the overall footprint of an approved precinct would be subject to further comprehensive environmental assessment at the time, particularly in terms of cumulative impacts,' Dr Vogel said.

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