EDS: Not for use before 2115 AEDT on Monday, April 1 2013
BRISBANE, April 1 AAP - Approval for two major coal seam gas developments was rushed and came even though decision-makers lacked crucial information, a former Queensland bureaucrat says.
Senior environmental specialist Simone Marsh was part of the Queensland Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DPI) team which approved an $18 billion Santos project and a $20 billion Queensland Gas Company (QGC) project in 2010.
She has told the ABC's Four Corners program she did not have any of the basic site information, baseline studies and details about infrastructure placement which were necessary to properly assess the environmental impact of the projects.
"They wanted approval to come in and conduct that activity," she told the program, which aired on Monday night.
"They didn't want anyone to understand what the long-term impacts were going to be and the long-term costs associated with this activity."
The program said 900 pages of documents obtained through a freedom of information request supported Ms Marsh's claims.
One document, dated May 4, 2010, was sent by the DPI to the Coordinator-General and related to the Santos project.
The Coordinator-General was also charged with overseeing the approval process for the QGC project.
"As advised previously, not all the 'usual' information is available," the document says.
"This has been difficult and uncertain without the full suite of information normally available."
Ms Marsh told the ABC she repeatedly raised concerns about the lack of information supplied by the energy firms.
Industry spokesman Rick Wilkinson, the chief operating officer of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, said he wasn't aware of any pressure from industry that would have resulted in the environmental impact assessment process being rushed.
"I'm confident, from what I've seen, that the right processes were followed," he told the program.
"And there were many checks and balances on the way through."
The program also reported that farmers with properties around the CSG fields in southern Queensland were concerned that permanent damage had been done to the water table.