People V Santos – Wastewater case in court tomorrow

THE two-day court case between energy giant Santos and Narrabri anti-coal seam gas group People For the Plains begins in Sydney tomorrow.
Nanjing Night Net

People For the Plains, which is being represented by the NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), is arguing the approval for the company’s Leewood wastewater facility in the Pilliga forest is invalid.

The facility was assessed as a petroleum exploration project, but the group says it should be treated by the government as a “waste or resource management facility” and therefore as an independent project.

A spokesperson for the group said waste or resource management facilities need development consent underthe State Environmental PlanningPolicy.

“The development consent process for waste or resource management facilities is more rigorous and transparent than the assessment process for petroleum exploration activities,” the spokesperson said.

“It would require Santos to obtain an Environmental Impact Statement for the project, which would need to go on public exhibition for at least 30 days, giving the community a chance to have their say about the impacts of the proposal.”

Construction started on the Leewood facility in December last year – after the court challenge was announced.

Santos general manager of energy NSW, Peter Mitchley, said the company had all approvals in place to undertake the work.

“The Leewood Phase 2 project was approved following a rigorous and detailed assessment process which was carried out in accordance with the relevant regulatory guidelines,” Mr Mitchley said.

“Santos worked closely with a

number of government departments through this assessment process and all of these government departments are now satisfied with the sustainability and safety of the project. The industry regulations in NSW are the most stringent in the world, and Santos goes above and beyond to ensure that we explore for and extract natural gas safely.”

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