Watts v Department of Planning and Environment
Mr John Watts, a member of the Gloucester community affected by AGL's Coal Seam Gas (CSG) project, succeeded in gaining access to important documents on changes made in 2014 to the NSW Government’s CSG policy.
Represented by EDO NSW, Mr Watts sought information from the Department of Planning and Environment about changes to CSG policy. The NSW Government amended its CSG policy in July 2014, with the result that many significant CSG projects could be approved without a full Environmental Impact Assessment.
The changes directly impacted on AGL's CSG fracking program, which was approved without a full Environmental Impact Assessment.
Mr Watts first sought access to the information in September 2014. After the Department refused access twice, Mr Watts sought a new decision in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. On 3 March 2016, the Tribunal released its decision ordering the Department of Planning and Environment to release information sought by Mr Watts.
While AGL has announced that it will not proceed with the Gloucester Gas Project, the release of the information is an important win confirming that policymakers are accountable to the community and that policies impacting the environment must be made transparently, and in accordance with the law.
We are grateful to barrister Alexander H Edwards for his assistance in this matter.
Hills around Gloucester. Image: Dean Sewell/Groundswell Gloucester
- Page for this case
- Read more about what the Government’s changes to CSG policy mean for the environment in our blog Less environmental scrutiny of CSG drilling in NSW under new rules.
- See our previous case on AGL's CSG activities in Gloucester: Barrington-Gloucester-Stroud Preservation Alliance Incorporated v Planning Assessment Commission and AGL