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CSIRO approves onshore gas development

Environmental study approves onshore gas development

The Geological and Bioregional Assessment Program has been completed, providing scientific advice on the potential impacts from shale and tight gas development on water and the environment. 

Backed by $35.4 million in funding from the Australian Government, the initiative was undertaken by CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, supported by the Bureau of Meteorology, and managed by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

APPEA chief executive officer Andrew McConville said the independent studies were conducted in three geological basins: the Cooper Basin, the Isa Superbasin and the Beetaloo Sub-basin. 

“The scientific studies were carried out by some of Australia’s most respected science institutions and technical experts, including Australia’s national science agency CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, with support from the Bureau of Meteorology and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment,” McConville said.

“The research was guided by user panels that included representatives from relevant local governments, natural resource management bodies, State Government, Traditional Owner groups, industry and other land user groups.” 

CSIRO said Geological and Bioregional Assessment Program aimed to increase and understanding of the potential impacts on water and the environment posed by the development of gas resources. 

McConville further highlighted that the studies found that there were effective environmental safeguards available for all three basins, underscoring that gas resources development in Australia can be safe. 

“Since 2011, 14 separate inquiries and investigations have been conducted in Australia into differing aspects of onshore gas activities,” he said.

“These inquiries and investigations have allowed governments to better understand the science and technology of onshore gas development, measure the potential social, health, safety, economic and environmental risks, and form recommendations around industry regulation and ensuring best practice into the future.”

Developed through Stage 3 of the program, the GBA Explorer is an interactive visualisation of the cause-and-effect relationship between unconventional gas resource developments and the environment. 

The online tool uses causal networks to map the pathways between development activities and natural impact. 

Users now have access to robust scientific information and can explore how resource development leads to stressors that effect natural processes, in order to decide how best to go about activities with minimal impact. 

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