Today I visited the Liverpool Plains to meet with local farmers to hear their views about the proposed Watermark project. I am aware of the high level of community concern regarding this project.
I have requested additional advice from the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC) in relation to the Watermark project.
The approval process under the EPBC Act will be paused while I await the additional advice on the protection of water resources.
Given almost two years has passed since advice was provided, I consider it important, prudent and appropriate to seek additional advice from the IESC.
This will ensure that the most up to date scientific information is utilised for the assessment of the project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
I take my responsibilities under the EPBC Act very seriously and seeking this further information will ensure that the assessment is robust and based on the best available science.
The proposal has only recently been approved by New South Wales. It will now be considered by the Federal Government in accordance with the EPBC Act, fully taking into account matters of national environmental significance.
Further information on the request to the IESC is available online at: http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/epbc/epbc_ap.pl?name=current_referral_detail&proposal_id=6201