Conservation groups slam Scarborough nearshore environmental approval

Gas plant at Scarborough nearshore (project)

Woodside has been granted environmental approval of the Scarborough nearshore component by Western Australian Minister for Environment Amber-Jade Sanderson, just days after the IPCC Report issued a ‘code red’ warning over the continued use of fossil fuels.

Following assessment by the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority, on August 11 the Minister granted approval of the nearshore proposal, subject to conditions, under Section 45 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986.

Ministerial Statement 1172 authorises the installation of an approximately 32km section of the Scarborough trunkline within State waters, together with associated activities required to construct the trunkline.

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Woodside Acting CEO Meg O’Neill welcomed the Minister’s decision to approve the proposed development activities for Scarborough nearshore.

“This is an important regulatory milestone as we now have both Commonwealth and State primary environmental approvals in place to support a final investment decision for the Scarborough development.

“Scarborough gas contains negligible reservoir carbon dioxide. Combined with the adoption of best available proven technology in design at Pluto Train 2, these developments will be amongst the lowest-carbon LNG sources globally for Woodside’s North Asian customers,” she said.

Woodside is proposing to develop the Scarborough gas resource through new offshore facilities connected by an approximately 430km pipeline to a proposed expansion of the existing Pluto LNG onshore facility. Expansion includes modifications to the existing Pluto Train 1, construction of a second gas processing train (Pluto Train 2) and additional domestic gas infrastructure.

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The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) slammed the Scarborough nearshore pipeline approval, saying it would accelerate climate change, damage the richest area of marine biodiversity in the state and harm unique cultural heritage.

“The nearshore pipeline project involves blasting and dredging kilometers of seabed and dumping millions of tons of crushed coral and rock within the Dampier Archipelago—the richest area of marine biodiversity in Western Australia,” CCWA executive director Piers Verstegen said.

“An independent technical review of the project found that the construction of the pipeline poses a high risk of injury and death to protected marine life including turtles, dolphins, and dugongs.

“The pipeline operations also risk severe impacts on migrating humpback whales.”