Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
ABC News
ABC News

Tanya Plibersek declines to fast-track Senex Energy gas project

Tanya Plibersek said she wasn’t satisfied with Senex's arguments for an exemption. (ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

The Federal Environment Minister has rejected a gas company's attempt to have its $1 billion development in southern Queensland exempted from assessment against national environment laws.

Senex Energy, which is owned by Gina Rinehart's Hancock Energy and South Korean steel maker Posco, earlier this month announced plans to develop gas fields near Roma.

The company had applied to Minister Tanya Plibersek for an exemption from the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC), saying it was in the national interest.

Senex said an exemption from environmental assessments would allow it to develop its project quickly and aid with Australia's domestic gas supply, with forecasts the country could face shortfalls in 2023

The minister said she wasn't satisfied with the arguments for an exemption.

"Exempting this proposal from the requirements of the EPBC Act would not provide short-term relief to east-coast gas customers, given that gas supply from this project is at least 15 months away," Ms Plibersek said.

"I also understand that given the scale of the project and what is already known about the site, any assessment process under the EPBC Act is likely to be relatively straightforward."

Senex Energy has proposed a $1 billlion expansion of its gas fields near Roma. (Supplied: Senex Energy)

A Senex spokesperson said the company understood and respected the minister's decision. 

"We note that this important acreage has received prior approval from the department," the spokesperson said. 

"We continue to believe that following the $1 billion in investment we plan to make in developing our reserves, we can make a very meaningful contribution to Australia's increasing need for natural gas."

Checks and balances

The Lock the Gate Alliance said it had been shocked Senex had tried to circumvent the normal processes by gaining an exemption.

"It's basic rules that everyone goes through these checks and balances, so its good to see the minister is upholding the law," Queensland co-ordinator Ellie Smith said. 

Ms Smith said the environmental group was encouraged to see Ms Plibersek taking her position seriously.

"As far as things like this go with Senex trying to slip by the rules, its really good to see that she's willing to crack down on that kind of thing," she said.

Ellie Smith welcomed the minister's decision. (Supplied: Ellie Smith)

Ms Plibersek said her department would continue to work with Senex on any environmental assessment that may be required.

"The government is committed to the highest environmental standards, and I take my responsibilities under our national environmental laws very seriously," she said.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.