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Parliamentary Questions

Question On Notice No. 480 asked in the Legislative Council on 16 December 2021 by Hon Dr Brad Pettitt

Question Directed to the: Minister representing the Minister for Environment
Minister responding: Hon A. Sanderson
Parliament: 41 Session: 1
Tabled Paper No: 1064- View tabled paper
Question

I refer to the proposed Derby Tidal Energy Project, and ask:
(a) is the Minister aware that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected this proposal in 1999 on the basis that “the overall environmental consequences of the proposal were unacceptable and the proposal should not be implemented”;
(b) have any concerns put forward by the EPA in 1999 been allayed by the provision of new information by the proponent;
(c) in 2003, Shadow Treasurer Colin Barnett stated on the ABC that the proposal failed environmentally and technically, has the situation as described by Mr Barnett changed:
(i) if yes to (c), what has changed;
(d) in Ministerial Statement 941 dated July 2013 it states that "within 5 years from the date of this statement, must be demonstrated as substantial by providing the CEO with written evidence, on or before the expiration of 5 years from the date of this statement". Has the proponent received any extensions to the five-year limit:
(i) if yes to (d), when did it receive any extension(s) and how did the proponent demonstrate that the commencement of implementation was ‘substantial’;
(e) I refer to Statement No. 941, 22 July, 2013, what implementation conditions and procedures were to have been completed by now;
(f) I refer to Statement No. 941, 22 July, 2013, have any implementation conditions and procedures been completed:
(i) if yes to (f), which ones have been completed;
(g) has any compliance reporting been provided for the Derby Tidal Power Station Project as described in Statement No. 941, 22 July, 2013:
(i) if yes to (g), will the Minister table all the compliance reporting; and
(ii) if no to (g)(i), why not;
(h) how many Monitoring Plans, Reports, Program’s, Operational strategies and Modelings are required according to Bulletin 941;
(i) the EPA stated in Bulletin 1071 that as “No new information has been submitted by TEA to provide greater certainty on the issue of impacts on and management of mangroves – that the EPA’s objective for mangroves cannot be met”. Has any new information come to light that shows the EPA’s objective for mangroves can be met:
(i) if yes to (i), will the Minister table the information; and
(ii) if no to (i)(i), why not;
(j) in Bulletin 1071, the EPA said In Bulletin 1071, the EPA said “it is appropriate for the EPA to reiterate its conclusion from Bulletin 942 that the EPA’s objective for mangroves cannot be met.” And there was uncertainty “…associated with the factors of mangroves and sedimentation.” Has any new information come to light that shows the EPA’s objective for mangroves and sedimentation can be met;
(k) is the Minister aware of the report A critical appraisal of the Consultative Environmental Review: Derby Tidal Power Project Doctors creek, Kimberley by Dr Vic Semenuik;
(l) is the Minister aware that the Doctors Creek area is one of “International significance as a macrotidal, mangrove-vegetated tidal flat”;
(m) Dr Semenuik identified a number of information gaps in the proposal, can the Minister provide evidence to show that these information gaps have been filled to the satisfaction of the EPA and herself:
(i) if no to (m), why not;
(n) according to the Referral document submitted under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act), reference EPBC Act 2010/5544, the proponent has submitted a map (page 4 of 40) that is different to the map it has provided in its “NOTIFICATION OF CHANGES TO THE DERBY TIDAL POWER PROJECT (ASSESSMENT #1073) UNDER SECTION 43 OF THE ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION ACT 1986” (page 9), can the Minister confirm which is the correct map;
(o) the proponent in its “NOTIFICATION OF CHANGES TO THE DERBY TIDAL POWER PROJECT (ASSESSMENT #1073) UNDER SECTION 43 OF THE ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION ACT 1986” states that the proposal would supply electricity to Broome and Derby as well as the “possibility of serving other customers, for example mineral processing”, specifically a zinc refinery at Derby. The referral under the EPBC Act states that the proposal would provide power to Derby, Broome and the Kimberley Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Precinct at James Price Point. 
According to an article on ABC News (North-west Australian tidal power project in final stages of federal environmental approvals, 2 July 2021), the proponent stated that the project could supply –
“…mines in the area that are in the process of being established. There's the Curtin Airbase, the Kilto abattoir and there's a prawn farm potentially also in the works," he said.
"We have built into the costings all the power transmission infrastructure for supplying things like Sheffield Mine."

Is the Minister aware that there is no proposal for a zinc refinery at Derby, the Kimberley Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Precinct at James Price Point is no longer going ahead, the Kilto abattoir is in mothballs, no prawn farm has been approved, the ‘Sheffield Mine’ is using gas from the Pilbara, no other mines are likely to require electricity, Horizon Power is not seeking electricity from the project and that according to a story in the Broome Advertiser (Proposed Derby tidal energy project could slash Kimberley power bills by more than 50 per cent, 17 June, 2021), “The Derby supply will be online from 2034, after existing power supply contracts expire…”;
(p) has the company recently disclosed to the Government or EPA where it would sell electricity to:
(i) if yes to (p), will the Minister table the information;
(q) if the proponent does not have evidence, it has a market for the electricity, does this make the environmental approval redundant;
(r) how many hectares of mangroves would be destroyed for the proposal; and
(s) has the proponent got any evidence that mangroves would grow back post project implementation:
(i) if yes to (s), will the Minister table the evidence; and
(ii) if not to (s)(i), why not?

Answered on 15 February 2022

(a) – (c)  I am advised that in 1999 the EPA recommended in its assessment report that the proposal not be implemented.  In 2000 the then Minister for Environment received appeals against the EPA’s report and the appeal decision was that the proposal could proceed subject to conditions.  In 2013 the then Minister for Environment issued environmental approval for the proposal in Ministerial Statement 941.  This statement contains conditions that require further information, plans and studies to be submitted by the proponent prior the commencement of construction to ensure the proposal’s effect on the environment is regulated and managed.  The proponent has not substantially commenced the proposal.           

(d)     No

(e)     Implementation condition 4-2 related to the submission of a compliance assessment plan and was required within nine months of July 2013.  Implementation condition 3-1 related to substantial commencement and was required to be completed by 22 July 2018.  I am advised that the proponent is currently seeking a time limit extension for condition 3-1.

(f)      Yes

(i)       The proponent has completed Condition 4-2 (compliance reporting) for Ministerial Statement 941.

(g)      Yes

(i)      I hereby table these Compliance Assessment Reports:

1.        AECOM (2015) Derby Tidal Power Project Compliance Assessment Report

2.        AECOM (2016) Derby Tidal Power Project Compliance Assessment Report 2016

3.        AECOM (2017) Derby Tidal Power Project Compliance Assessment Report 2017

4.        AECOM (2018) Derby Tidal Power Project Compliance Assessment Report 2018

5.        AECOM (2019) Derby Tidal Power Project Compliance Assessment Report 2019

6.        AECOM (2020) Derby Tidal Power Project Compliance Assessment Report 2020

7.        AECOM (2021) Derby Tidal Power Project Compliance Assessment Report 2021

(h)      Eleven environmental management plans, survey reports or strategies are required.

(i)       Ministerial Statement 941 requires the proponent to prepare and submit a Mangrove Research and Establishment Program and undertake research trials for the approval of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation to provide further information on the issue of potential impacts on and management of mangroves.  I am advised that the proponent has not submitted this information.

(j)       Ministerial Statement 941 requires the proponent to undertake detailed hydrodynamic and sedimentation modelling (condition 8), based on information from the Mangrove Habitat Baseline Survey (condition 7), to predict where mangroves will be impacted and be able to recolonise (condition 9).  I am advised that these reports are required to be submitted to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation for approval prior to commencement of works. I am advised that teh proponent has not submitted this information

(k)   – (l)  I am aware that there has been some significant work to examine the importance of  the Doctors Creek area.

(m)      Ministerial Statement 941 requires the proponent to undertake and submit a range of plans, reports or strategies for the approval of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation before the proposal can be implemented.  I am advised that a number of the plans and reports are required to address the uncertainties in relation to mangroves, sedimentation and geo-heritage.  

(n)        I am advised that the proponent has submitted a different map to the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment for its assessment under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Ministerial Statement 941 describes the proposal approved under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.  If the proponent wishes to change the proposal approved under Ministerial Statement 941, an application must be made under section 45C or section 38 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986.

(o) – (q) The current environmental approval in Ministerial Statement 941 includes the construction of power lines to distribute power to major centres in the West Kimberley.  Condition 13 of the Ministerial Statement requires that the details and route of the power transmission infrastructure must be submitted for approval prior to construction.  I am advised that the proponent has not submitted the details and route of the transmission infrastructure to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation for approval.  While the proponent has received environmental approval for the Derby Tidal Power Station under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, there are other matters in relation to the distribution and retailing of power to customers that require review and consideration by other decision-making authorities.

(r)          Up to 1500 hectares of mangrove communities.

(s)          Condition 9 of Ministerial Statement 941 requires the proponent to implement the proposal to achieve an outcome of a self-sustaining mangrove community within specified areas.  Achievement of this outcome is reliant on the proponent submitting plans and studies for mangrove research and establishment, as required by the conditions.  I am advised that the proponent has not submitted the plan for mangrove research and establishment to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation for approval.