People for the Plains Incorporated v Santos NSW (Eastern) Pty Limited and Ors  NSWLEC 93 (1 August 2016)
The People for the Plains have lost their case against energy company Santos this week. The New South Wales Land and Environment Court was asked to determine the validity of the water processing facility used by Santos during its exploratory operations in the Pilliga State Forest. Santos planned to operate a mining wastewater management facility, which had not been subject to an environmental impact statement. The applicant submitted the respondent’s water facility was invalid. Additionally, the applicant requested the mining wastewater management project be considered in light of s 123 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
The respondent submitted that the facility was considered a part of an oil and gas exploration activity exempted from development approval (Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991). The Court found Santos was operating within the scope of their licence as the mining wastewater management is coincident and consequential to the permitted petroleum exploration. To this end, the facility is not subject to a separate development consent.
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