Lock The Gate poster.
Lock The Gate poster.

Environmental off-set policy labelled a failure

ENVIRONMENTAL group Lock the Gate has hit out at the nation's policy on setting aside valuable environmental areas for "offsets" from new developments, in a submission to a Senate inquiry.

That submission to the Greens-led Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth offsets policy has labelled it a poorly-enforced "failure".

The inquiry is examining the policies which demand miners and developers set aside unique environments from damage, if projects will likely damage existing valuable areas.

While the inquiry has received numerous submissions, none have yet been released publicly through the inquiry, with the Lock the Gate Alliance releasing their submission on Friday.

The submission hits out at approvals of gas export facilities in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, a Galilee Basin coal mine and two coal mines in New South Wales.

"In our view, and based on our experience and that of our members around the country, these case studies are not isolated incidents, but expose systemic and institutional failures," the submission reads.

"The history of recent approvals in the GBR World Heritage Area is a case in point.

"In our view, the community holds a reasonable expectation that large scale industrial development in a World Heritage Area is an activity that cannot be offset."

The submission criticised what it called a failure in the assessment of major projects, in that it includes "no provision to ask if impacts are 'clearly unacceptable'".

It said a World Heritage Committee mission to examine approvals near the reef had noted offsets applied to developments at Gladstone Harbour and Curtis Island were "not one that has the support" of the committee.

"'Furthermore the offsets that have been proposed do not appear to compensate for the losses resulting from these developments'," the submission quotes.

The inquiry is expected to report its findings to parliament in mid-June this year.