What has happened?
Parliament has passed legislation that imposes a federal layer of environmental approval on coal seam gas (CSG) and large coal mining developments that have a significant impact on water resources through the introduction of a new matter of national environmental significance (MNES). The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Communities (SEWPaC) has also released the ‘Draft significant impact guidelines: Coal seam gas and large coal mining developments—impacts on water resources’1 (Guidelines) in relation to the new MNES.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Act 2013 (Cth) (EPBC Amendment Act)2 (see our previous alert on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill 2013 (Cth)3). The EPBC Amendment Act commenced on 22 June 2013. It amends the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) to insert sections 24D and 24E, which create a new MNES in relation to water resources.