Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord Inc v Santos NSW (Eastern) Pty Ltd
Jurisdiction: Land and Environment Court, NSW
Side A: Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord Inc (Ngo)
Side B: Santos NSW (Eastern) Pty Ltd (Corporation)
Side C: Independent Planning Commission (Government)
Core objectives: Challenge to the approval of a new gas project
SummaryMullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord Inc (MGPA), a community action group, filed a challenge to the development consent to the Narrabri Gas Project by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC). The project involves the creation by Santos NSW of a coal seam gas field with its associated infrastructure spanning 95,000 hectares and 25 years.
The approval was based on a "State significant" development status under under section 4.36 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) (EPA Act), because it supports petroleum production. The favorable response by the IPC to Santos NSW's SSD 6456 application was delivered on September 30, 2020. MGMA contested the decision on the basis that the IPC failed to take into account environmental impacts of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions induced by the project, and failed to impose a condition of consent to regulate Scope 3 (downstream) GHG emissions.
On October 18, 2021, the Court rejected MGPA's challenge on the basis that MGPA did not establish that 1) the IPC erred to consider the expected GHG emissions, relevant to section 4.15(1)(b) of the EPA Act, and that 2) the Scope 3 emissions were inside Santos' direct control and thus that the IPC's decision to exclude conditions on that aspect was unreasonable. The Court further found that the IPC did not fail to consider the impacts of any potential gas transmission pipeline into consideration in its determination of the development application for the project, relevant to section 4.15(1)(b), because "the impacts of any potential gas transmission pipeline were sufficiently remote in the chain of likely consequences as not to be likely impacts of the project".