Mining plans fast-tracked

Posted: 14th Jan

FIFTY mining projects left "in limbo" by Labor's water trigger legislation could be fast-tracked by the Coalition government, says Environment Minister Greg Hunt.

Assessments for some of Australia's largest coal, iron ore and gas regions will be pushed through by the Coalition, after Mr Hunt discovered Labor left 50 major gas and energy projects "hanging" after changing environment laws to include a water trigger for extra assessments.

Mr Hunt said it was a "major surprise" to discover the 50 suspended projects during departmental briefings after being sworn in as minister last week.

"They brought in a water trigger - and then made no decisions, so 50 major gas and energy projects are in complete limbo," he told Sky News.

"How do you as a government... change the law and then leave 50 major projects in limbo?"

The Coalition will assess master plans for several key regions - including the Great Barrier Reef, the Pilbara in Western Australia and the NSW Hunter Valley - in a bid to cut green tape and to bring about the "one-stop shop" for environmental approvals election promise.

Mr Hunt is yet to see detailed briefings on the projects but said he would start making decisions on whether to refer them for further environmental assessment this week.

"The previous ministers... weren't asked to say yes or no to the projects, all they were asked to do was to make a procedural decision as to whether or not these projects needed to be considered," Mr Hunt said.

The Land - 22 Sept 2013 -