Mining & Coal Seam Gas

EDO NSW has produced a number of resources on mining and coal seam gas.

EDO NSW undertakes law reform work relevant to mining and coal seam gas. Read our submissions below.

EDO NSW represents individuals and community groups in public interest litigation to protect the environment. Read about our past cases on mining and coal seam gas.

Our Fact Sheets on this topic include mining, coal seam gas, and Strategic Regional Land Use Policy package.

See current opportunities for law reform in this area at Have Your Say about decisions relevant to mining and coal seam gas.

Merits report coverMerits Review in Planning in NSW
June 2016

This EDO NSW special report responds to community concerns about the loss of their right to appeal approvals of large resource extraction projects. The report demonstrates that merits review is an essential part of a well-functioning planning system, and shows that there are clear benefits to allowing third party merits review for major projects in NSW.

Read more »

submissions

EDO NSW Submission on the Environmental Impact Assessment Improvement Project – Environmental impact assessment for major projects

November 2016 – Download PDF

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment invited EDO NSW to make preliminary comments on stage 1 of its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Improvement Project and high-level discussion paper.

Our comments build on previous submissions on the regulation of major project impacts. After commenting on the initial scope of the Project and eight proposed improvements, we recommend the Project address four issues in more detail: cumulative impacts; climate change; negative effects that ‘streamlining’ can have on public trust; and equitable appeal rights.

We also seek further clarity from the Department on whether the Project will involve legislative reform, and how it intersects with proposed reforms to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Draft Amendment to Protection of the Environment Operations Regulation (Scheduled Activities) 2016 - rail freight - EDO NSW submission

June 2016 – Download PDF

We support the intent to better regulate railway activities and assign responsibility for managing environmental and health impacts. However we have a number of concerns with the Amendment Regulation and provide recommendations for improvement, including:

  • Any new licences issued as a result of the Amendment Regulation must specify clear standards and timeframes for achieving emissions reduction targets.
  • Load-based fees should be applied for railway activities that emit pollutants including fine particulates and nitrogen oxides, to encourage continuous improvement.
  • The Amendment Regulation should be clarified to address issues which require “shared responsibility for environmental performance” (such as wheel squeal).
  • The minimum 30km track-length should be removed before a pollution licence is required for trains and railway infrastructure, to ensure all coal trains are properly regulated.

Issues Paper on Consultation and Transparency Requirements for Offshore Petroleum Activities in Commonwealth Waters - EDOs of Australia submission

April 2016 - Download PDF

In our submission we make a range of recommendations on how offshore petroleum regulation can be strengthened to meet the standards required under Australian environmental law, including:

  • Offshore petroleum project proposals and Environment Plans should be required to identify matters of national environmental significance that may be affected by the project.
  • Environment Plans should be required to include information about the proponent’s environmental history, including details of any legal proceedings taken against the proponent.
  • Environment Plans should be required to be placed on public exhibition for a minimum of 30 working days.
  • Standing provisions that reflect those in the EPBC Act should be included in the legislation. This would allow conservation groups and individual ‘third parties’ to seek judicial review of a decision to approve an Environment Plan that does not comply with the Regulations.

Community Consultative Committee Guidelines – State Significant Projects - EDO NSW submission

April 2016 - Download PDF

We support the intent to update and strengthen guidelines for CCCs. Our submission draws on comments and feedback from EDO NSW clients who have been, and continue to be, involved in committees in their local communities.

In our submission, we recommend strengthening and clarifying the CCC guidelines across seven areas: the independent chair; community membership; early engagement; data and research; meeting protocol; training and interaction with other committees. Recommendations on each of these are detailed in the submission.

 

Senate Inquiry into oil and gas production in the Great Australian Bight - EDOs of Australia submission

April 2016 - Download PDF

Our submission focusses on the regulatory framework needed to ensure potential environmental impacts of oil or gas production are comprehensively assessed and managed.

We are concerned that the NOPSEMA assessment and approval processes do not equate to the regulatory requirements under the Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

We also restate our position that delegating environmental responsibilities to states and other agencies – through, for example, the ‘one-stop shop’ policy – may lower assessment and approval standards. Recent proceedings undertaken by EDO NSW on behalf of the International Fund for Animal Welfare demonstrate that our concerns are justified.

Senate Select Committee Inquiry into Unconventional Gas Mining - EDOs of Australia submission

March 2016 - Download PDF

In our submission, we calls for strong national laws to regulate unconventional gas development, raise concerns with the current regulation of these developments at both State and national levels, and propose ways that national regulation can be strengthened. Unconventional gas includes coal seam gas (CSG) and shale gas. 

EDO NSW submission on the Draft Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation

30 November 2015 - Download PDF

Our submission identifies concerns that the proposed community consultation code does not involve best practice community consultation and needs to be significantly strengthened.

EDO NSW submission on Guidelines for the Economic Assessment of Mining & Coal Seam Gas Proposals

26 November 2015 - Download PDF

This submission to the NSW Planning Department makes 30 recommendations to improve the economic assessments of mining projects. For example, the Guidelines need:

  • further development, consultation and peer-review before being finalised (including on weighing up social and environmental impacts)
  • clearer guidance on cost-benefit analysis and qualitative impacts (those without a ‘dollar value’) in decision-making
  • better ways to account for risk and uncertainty of outcomes 
  • requirements that assessments report on who will benefit and who will bear the costs of projects over time
  • requirements that ‘Local Effects Analysis’ of mining proposals be objective, accurate and balanced
  • an independent panel to peer-review all economic analyses of mining projects (as the draft proposes).

EDO NSW submission on Strategic Release Framework and PRIA Guidelines

6 November 2015 - Download PDF

This is a submission on how the NSW Government identifies and releases new areas for coal and gas exploration. The Government’s draft Framework would be informed by a ‘Preliminary Regional Issues Analysis’, which we also comment on. Our key recommendations are:

  • Implement the Preliminary Assessment and Advisory Body in legislation 
  • Include independent experts and added transparency for the Advisory Body 
  • Consider climate change in the Strategic Framework and Preliminary Assessment Guidelines 
  • the Preliminary Assessment must go beyond existing data (adopting the precautionary principle, clear environmental assessment criteria, exclusion zones and cumulative impact assessment).

Submissions on the Integrated Mining Policy

Stage 1 submission, 9 July 2015 - Download PDF

Stage 2 submission, 7 September 2015 - Download PDF

The NSW Government is proposing a new whole-of-government approach to mining applications through an Integrated Mining Policy. The Government called for public submissions in two stages from May to September 2015. EDO NSW made key submissions at both stages of the consultation.

Read a summary of the key points in our submissions

Submission on Mining SEPP Amendment 2015 (repealing prioritisation of resource significance)

21 July 2015 - Download PDF

Submission Federal parliamentary inquiry into the Landholders’ Right to Refuse (Gas and Coal) Bill 2015

29 May 2015 - Download PDF

Submission to Coal Exploration Steering Group discussion paper

December 2014 - Download PDF 

SEPP Amendment (Gas Exploration and Mining) 2014

December 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on Draft Protection of the Environment operations Amendment (NSW Gas Plan) Regulation 2014

November 2014 - Download PDF

Submission to Legislative Council inquiry into performance of NSW EPA

August 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on EP&A Amendments (Mining and Petroleum) 2014 and the Mining SEPP

July 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on Draft NSW - Commonwealth Bilateral Approval Agreement

June 2014 - Download PDF

ANEDO submission to Federal parliamentary inquiry into environmental regulation

April 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on Draft NSW-Commonwealth Bilateral Assessment Agreement

December 2013 - Download PDF

ANEDO submission on streamlining of environmental approvals for offshore petroleum

December 2013 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on Productivity Commission Draft Report – Major Projects

September 2013 - Download PDF

ANEDO submission on the draft Terms of Reference for a strategic assessment of the environmental management authorisation process for petroleum activities administered by NOPSEMA under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006

September 2013 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on the Draft Significant Impact Guidelines under the EPBC Act 1999: Coal seam gas and large coal mining developments - impacts on water resources

25 July 2013 - Download PDF

Submission on draft Gateway process for Strategic Regional Land Use Policy

December 2012 - Download PDF

Submission on amendments to the Mining SEPP – State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) Amendment (Resource Significance) 2013

August 2013 - Download PDF

Submission on the Draft Protection of the Environment Operations Amendment (Coal Seam Gas Activities) Regulation 2013

May 2013 - Download PDF

Submission on Coal Seam Gas Exclusion Zones in NSW – draft Mining SEPP amendments

April 2013 - Download PDF

Submission on the Independent Review of Coal Seam Gas in New South Wales 

April 2013 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission to Productivity Commission Issues Paper and Inquiry on Mineral and Energy Resource Exploration 

March 2013 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on the Draft National Harmonised Regulatory Framework for Coal Seam Gas 2012

February 2013 - Download PDF

Letter in response to CSG policy announcements 

13 July 2012 - Download PDF

ANEDO Inquiry into the Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and large Coal Mining Development) Bill 2012

26 April 2012 - Download PDF

Draft Code of Practice for Coal Seam Gas Exploration

2 May 2012 - Download PDF

Consultation on Mineral Resources’ draft Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines

1 Dec 2011 - Download PDF

Submission to NSW CSG Inquiry - Appendix 1 - Flaws in REF process

21 September 2011 - Download PDF

Submission to NSW CSG Inquiry

21 September 2011 - Download PDF

EDO appearance at CSG Inquiry – oral transcript (see pp 10-16)

8 December 2011 - Download PDF

EDO responses to CSG Inquiry – questions on notice

19 January 2012 - Download PDF

Submission on the NSW Coal & Gas Strategy 

15 April 2011 - Download PDF

Proposed Mining Regulation 2010

10 June 2010 - Download PDF

Discussion Paper: Proposals for Amendment to the Mining Act 1992

7 September 2005 - Download PDF

briefing notes

Mining and Petroleum Legislation Amendment Package 2015 (NSW)

February 2016 - Download PDF

On 15 October 2015 the NSW Government introduced a package of five Bills into Parliament that make significant amendments to the State’s minerals and petroleum (coal seam gas) laws. The Bills passed the Parliament without amendment a week later. They have now been assented to (signed into law) but not all the Bills or provisions had commenced as at January 2016. Further amendments to regulations are also likely under the Mining Act 1992 (Mining Act) and the Petroleum Onshore Act 1991 (Petroleum Act).

This briefing note gives an overview of key changes and EDO NSW analysis of each Bill, with more detail on the changes at the end.

A review of NSW Coal Seam Gas Regulation and Best Practice

December 2014 - Download PDF

ANEDO - Objections to the proposal for an environmental ‘one stop shop’

December 2013 - Download PDF

discussion papers

Licence to kill: Commonwealth environmental approval for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project

EDOs of Australia helped the Australian Conservation Foundation produce this report that analyses the approval for Adani's Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland, which will be one of the largest coal mines in the world.

The report asks whether the 36 conditions connected with the mine’s approval will achieve the objective of ensuring that the mine won’t have unacceptable environmental impacts. The scale of the development, the range of impacts triggered, the public controversy, and the heavy reliance on conditions in the re-approval make the Carmichael case the perfect stress test for our nation’s most important environmental law.

The report assesses the approval across three key environmental areas: protecting biodiversity; protecting world heritage areas; and ensuring transparency and accountability. It finds the conditions inadequate in a number of ways, and makes 17 recommendations for how mine approvals can be improved.

September 2016 - Download the report

Other resources

Merits Review in Planning in NSW

This report demonstrates that merits review is an essential part of the planning system and it is crucial that it continues to be recognised and facilitated in NSW.

In addition, there are clear benefits to allowing third party merits review in relation to major projects in NSW. These benefits relate to improving the consistency, quality and accountability of decision-making in environmental matters. In particular, merits review has facilitated the development of an environmental jurisprudence, enabled better outcomes through conditions, provides scrutiny of decisions and fosters natural justice and fairness. Better environmental and social outcomes and decisions based on ecologically sustainable development is the result.

Merits review has a long history in NSW, being a key element of planning reforms introduced in 1979 to a politicised and overly-complex system in drastic need for reform. The reforms sought to simplify and improve planning in NSW, as well as to depoliticise and take the heat out of decision-making. Fulsome public participation and the establishment of a specialist court – the Land and Environment Court – were key components in this enterprise.

Merits review for developers and third parties in the Land and Environment Court were, in turn, crucial elements in restoring the integrity and legitimacy of planning and decision-making for environmental matters.

Recent moves to limit third party merits review – particularly for resource projects - deprive the broader public of the benefits of good decision-making in environmental matters and serve to undermine the integrity of the planning system. The consistency, quality and accountability of decision-making by merits review undertaken by the Land and Environment Court contrasts with weaker decision-making, poorer outcomes and the inferior processes in public hearings held by the recently established Planning Assessment Commission.

The flow on result is that communities are disempowered and alienated by both the extinguishment of their merits review rights and the weakening of decision-making in environmental matters which, in turn, undermines the integrity of the NSW planning system.

2016 - Download PDF

Read more at our blog by EDO NSW CEO/Principal Solicitor Sue Higginson, The community’s right to participate: what happened to merits review?, 7 July 2016.

Coal and gas mining in Australia: Opportunities for national law reform (August 2013)

This report was commissioned by the Australia Institute and prepared by the Australian Network of Environmental Defender’s Offices Inc (ANEDO).

The purpose of this report is to identify existing Commonwealth law and policy relevant to the regulation of coal mining and unconventional gas exploration and production in Australia. Having identified the regulatory gaps, this report outlines opportunities for law reform in 9 key areas, with an emphasis on ecologically sustainable development (ESD) and decision-making based on best-available science.

The report makes a number of key findings. It is now clear that the Commonwealth may rely on a range of constitutional ‘powers’ to create laws to manage our environment in accordance with the principles of ESD. It is also clear that they may regulate coal mining and unconventional gas development in order to protect Australia’s unique natural heritage and food producing land.

2013 - Download Report

2016 update: EDOs of Australia has just made a submission to the Senate’s Unconventional Gas Mining Inquiry. The submission hasn't been made public yet, but you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or sign up to our weekly eBulletin to be alerted when it becomes available.

Mining Law in New South Wales Discussion Paper (June 2011)

EDO NSW's discussion paper, Mining Law in NSW (June 2011), looks at the need to reform the legal framework that regulates mining in our State – with a key focus on coal and coal seam gas (CSG) extraction. The main Acts considered are the NSW Mining Act 1992Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

The discussion paper identifies key inadequacies with the system across three related areas:

  • Environmental assessment and planning issues

  • Community issues

  • Compliance and enforcement issues

The paper also makes 21 recommendations for legislative change to make the current processes more sustainable, robust, equitable and transparent.

Hard copies of this publication are available upon request , or it can be downloaded from this page.

For further EDO policy perspectives on mining, view our policy submissions for mining & coal seam gas.

If you are looking for our community guide to Mining law in NSW (December 2012), which explains how existing laws work, it is available here.

June 2011 - Download PDF

Ticking the Box: Flaws in the Environmental Assessment of Coal Seam Gas Exploration Activities

The coal seam gas (CSG) industry in NSW is expanding rapidly. At the same time, the community is becoming increasingly concerned that the legal regime that regulates the exploration and extraction of coal seam gas does not ensure a thorough environmental assessment of such activities.

This publication argues that the legal process applying to CSG exploration lacks independence and rigour in terms of the assessment of potential environmental impacts. As a result, the Reviews of Environmental Factors (REFs) provided to comply with this process are of poor quality, and often constitute a fairly generic lists of impacts.

The publication outlines the nature of the problem illustrates, through some case studies, the deficiencies in the legal process. In light of these problems, legal reform to the assessment of CSG exploration is necessary.

14 Nov 2011 - Download PDF