Understanding the potential impacts of coal seam gas and coal mining on water-dependent assets
The Australian Government (through the then Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities – now the Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE)) initiated the BAP in 2012 to better understand the future potential impacts (direct, indirect and cumulative) of coal seam gas and large coal mining developments on water resources and water-dependent assets. BAP covered 13 priority areas (sub-regions) across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
BAP funding was directed towards three key components:
- the Bioregional Assessment Technical Program (BATP)
- projects conducted by state government agencies in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland
- asset identification by natural resource management groups.
The BATP was conducted as a collaboration between CSIRO, Geoscience Australia (GA), DoEE and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), in consultation with state government agencies, catchment authorities, local governments and industry groups. BATP's goal is to improve the understanding of the potential impacts of coal seam gas (CSG) and coal mining developments on water and the environment, ensuring the best science is available to inform decision making, and providing a common information base for governments, landowners, the community, business and investors.
Better informed decision making resulting in reducing the negative impact on the aquatic environments
BATP's goal is to improve the understanding of the potential impacts of coal seam gas (CSG) and coal mining developments on water and the environment, ensuring the best science is available to inform decision making, and providing a common information base for governments, landowners, the community, business and investors.
Other benefits/impacts include:
- assistance in providing project proponents with a social licence to operate
- potentially shortening the timeframes for the project approvals process
- providing an important independent information source in the public domain as to development impacts which can be used by the general public, landholders etc. in making their own assessment of projects and thus make informed judgements as to whether or not they want to support/oppose a particular project
- the public accessibility and interactivity of results on the information platform allows technical outputs to be easily interpreted and visualised
- the potential to give confidence that some area or assets are very unlikely to be affected, given the BA Explorer tool enables access to data down to 1 km2 scale enabling impact zones to be clearly delineated.
The BATP approach/methodology is readily adaptable for broader use in relation to extractive industries. The Government has already funded an expansion of BATP to undertake the assessment of impacts arising from tight and shale gas extraction. ACIL Allen has conservatively estimated the benefit-cost ratio of this project to be 7.48.