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The Queensland Government's changes to the Water Act have made the use of water more accessible to energy and resource businesses. Andre Dauwalder, Associate at HopgoodGanim joins us to discuss; welcome to BRR Andre.
Thanks very much.
So Andre what are the changes to the legislation?
Well essentially the Queensland Government has made it easier for a person to use water without needing to obtain a water licence or allocation. They've made a number of amendments to the Water Act and regulations and a couple of the more significant amendments, firstly that they have expanded and clarified the circumstances under which a person can take or interfere with water without a water entitlement and they've also removed the requirement for a person to obtain a Riverina Protection Permit, to destroy vegetation in a water course, lake or spring.
And how are these changes significant for the energy and resources sector?
Well they will benefit companies who carry out mining or petroleum, geothermal and GHG storage activities and will benefit proponents both explorers and producers. It will impact on the mining proponents in particular because they don't currently have a entitlement under their minerals legislation to use water, which unlike their petroleum counterparts. So if they want to say dewater a coal mine they actually need a separate authorisation under the Water Act which might take the form of a water licence or an allocation and this can be quite a significant regulatory burden because it can take a number of years to obtain this sort of authorisation and this can put quite a big pressure on project time frames. And just a couple of examples where you can use water now without a licence or an allocation, so mining proponents might be interested to know that if they want to divert a water course as part of a mining activity that they can actually do that without water licence provided it's already authorised under their environmental authority. And they can also now take and interfere with water for a number of low risk activities which are all prescribed under the regulations and this includes things such as washing down vehicles and carrying out testing of pumps and water bores. With respect to the Riverina Protection Permit, the amendments simply removed the requirement for a person to obtain a permit to destroy vegetation in a water course, lake or spring, however if you want to excavate or put fill into water course, lake or spring you would still need to obtain a permit for that.
Well it sounds like they have the ability to have quite an impact on the industry, is there anything companies need to do to prepare?
I think companies just need to be aware of the amendments as they filter through. The legislation hasn't really changed fundamentally over the past year or so, but there have been incremental changes that will impact upon the resources and energy sector. So these companies need to not only remain cognisant of their rights and obligations under the Water Act, but also any relevant water resource plans or resource operation plans that might affect their project area.
Well some good tips there Andre, thank you so much for joining us.
It's a pleasure.