04/02/2014 - 14:41

EPA appoints delegates to assess Browse

04/02/2014 - 14:41

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The Environmental Protection Authority has appointed three delegates to assess the environmental impact of the state government's proposed Browse liquefied natural gas precinct.

The Environmental Protection Authority has appointed three delegates to assess the environmental impact of the state government's proposed Browse liquefied natural gas precinct. 

Environment Minister Albert Jacob announced today he has granted approval for the EPA to formally delegate its powers to assess the proposal, following a bungled approval process for the original Browse onshore development proposal which led the state's chief justice to overrule the EPA.

Chief Justice Wayne Martin ruled in August last year that the EPA's approval of the proposed Browse onshore gas hub in 2012 was unlawful.

Conflicts of interest in the assessment process meant just one EPA board member - chairman Paul Vogel - made the final decision to recommend the project for conditional approval.

Then-environment minister Bill Marmion granted approval for the project despite the conflicts, which Mr Martin ruled was not a valid exercise of the powers conferred upon the minister.

The delegates appointed by the EPA had no involvment in the previous Browse assessment and recommendations to government.

The three appointed delegates are former Commonwealth Department of Environment deputy secretary Gerard Early, CSIRO group executive energy Tom Hatton and newly-appointed EPA member Glen McLeod.

"I am confident the delegates will provide a well-considered and impartial report on the proposal," Mr Jacob said.

The delegates will report to the minister with recommendations as to whether the proposal should proceed and if so, under what conditions.

Woodside and its joint venture partners - Japan's Mitsui, PetroChina, Shell and BP - decided last year to pursue a floating LNG option instead of an onshore gas hub at James Price Point, and will make a final investment decision in the third quarter of 2015.

Woodside last year put the cost of its onshore Browse proposal at more than $80 billion but Premier Colin Barnett has signalled he is determined to ensure an onshore development goes ahead at James Price Point.

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