Apr 4, 2013

Deep impact from Queensland’s long pipeline of projects

Is there any way to stop a Queensland mine? Queensland-based freelance journalist Amanda Gearing investigates the effectiveness of an environmental impact statement (hint: not much).

Whistleblower Simone Marsh is to be commended for bringing into question the environmental impact assessment scheme in Queensland, which is supporting the headlong development of more than $70 billion in mines, railways, pipelines and port developments.


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2 thoughts on “Deep impact from Queensland’s long pipeline of projects

  1. Mark Duffett

    Common sense would dictate an environmental impact statement into a proposed mine or development would be undertaken to assess whether or not the project should proceed — a basic risk/reward assessment.

    In a command economy, maybe. But that’s not what we have. In anything remotely resembling a free economy, common sense would dictate that anyone can do anything they like, within certain limits. The function of EISs and the like is to set those limits. It’s not for a regulator to try to be second-guessing the ‘reward’ part of the equation.

    The naive expectation of ‘a process to decide if projects should go ahead or not’ is the most curious aspect of this story.

  2. Rohan

    Like many people, this author has a woeful understanding of how development assessment works.

    An EIS can’t “stop” or allow a project. The purpose of an EIS is to detail exactly what a project involves, assess the likely impacts on people and the environment (air, noise, biodiversity, water, socioeconomic etc) and put forward a range of measures to avoid, minimise and offset these impacts.

    The relevant government departments will pick an EIS to pieces and ask developers to redo certain studies, provide more information, change the design of the project etc. After this information is provided the government ostensibly performs a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether the impacts are ‘acceptable’ and the project should be approved.

    Where most people are deluded is that they think the problem is that the government/public service is hoodwinked by dodgy assessments and self-serving arguments from developers.

    This is absolutely false. The problem lies in the evaluation framework for measuring and weighing environmental and social costs against economic and social benefits (jobs, royalties, economic flopw-on and multiplier effects etc). If the government of the day (which would argue it is only a reflection of majority society at this point in time) is disposed to consider one job as being more valuable than, say, clearing 10 hectares of a critically endangered vegetation community, projects such as these will never be refused.

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