Appeal of Santos’ CSG water treatment facility near Narrabri begins

An appeal by community group People for the Plains, from North West NSW has begun in the NSW Court of Appeal. The appeal challenges an earlier court decision that gave Santos a green light to operate its 'Leewood' coal seam gas (CSG) wastewater treatment facility near Narrabri and the world-renowned Pilliga State Forest.

1 November 2016

People for the Plains – represented by public interest environmental lawyers EDO NSW – earlier this year argued in the Land and Environment Court that the Leewood facility is unlawful because it did not go through the proper development assessment process before being approved. The NSW Department of Industry approved the facility in August 2015 as CSG exploration, without an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) being prepared and without the public being given a chance to comment. 

On 1 August 2016, the Land and Environment Court decided that the approval was valid. The Court’s decision means that the facility, which is expected to treat up to 1.5 million litres of CSG wastewater every day and then use the water to irrigate farmland crops, can legally be considered CSG exploration.

“Our client did not make the decision to appeal lightly.’ said Sue Higginson, CEO of EDO NSW. “But they are very concerned about the finding that such an industrial scale wastewater development could be considered CSG exploration, and so be exempt from public consultation and development consent. Local communities are worried about the impacts the Leewood facility will have on the environment. It is crucial that the law on this important issue is determined with certainty as it will set a precedent for similar industrial scale, long term projects in the future.”

The hearing commences at 10:15am on Tuesday 1 November 2016 in the Court of Appeal, 184 Phillip St, Sydney. Sue Higginson, EDO NSW Chief Executive Officer, will be available for interviews outside Court from 9:45am.

More background on this case can be found at EDO NSW’s website.

Media enquiries: Sue Higginson 0428 227 363 or Chris Madden (02) 9262 6989, media@edonsw.org.au