Decision made on Singleton Water Extraction Licence following Independent Review

NT Government

The Territory Government is developing a long-term, comprehensive Strategic Water Plan to ensure the sustainable and transparent management of our water resources.

A decision regarding the water extraction licence issued to Fortune Agribusiness has been made following the advice of an independent review panel.

The Minister for Environment under section 19(1) of the Water Act 1992 has delegated to the Minister for Territory Families and Urban Housing to merit review the original decision by the Controller of Water Resources to rule out any perceived conflict.

The independent review panel did not disagree with the Controller of Water Resources’ decision to award an extraction licence, but suggested further conditions be placed on the licence, meaning, the original water extraction licence has now been set aside.

A substituted licence has been granted, detailing improved and additional conditions on the proponent further to existing regulatory compliance measures. These additional conditions include:

a detailed assessment of the water resources on Singleton Station, with a program of drilling and aquifer testing to obtain specific data on aquifer properties and yields;a cultural values impact assessment;a requirement to demonstrate that the developed area does not result in unacceptable impact on water dependent cultural values; andStage 1 of the project is increased from 2 to 3 years to enable adequate assessment of the aquifer behaviour and Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem conditions.

The water extraction licence is one of a number of approvals that is required to be obtained by the proponent. The project must also obtain land clearing and non-pastoral use permit approvals, and will be required to be referred to the NT EPA for assessment under the Environment Protection Act before any water can be extracted. The advice of the independent review panel suggested inclusion of an assessment line of five years, a provision the Minister has decided upon for three years, as the remaining two years will be met as part of the more rigorous NT EPA assessment. Failure by the proponent to meet licence conditions could result in water being withheld or returned to the consumptive pool.

Project development will be staged over eight years, and once fully operational the project will support 110 permanent jobs and 1350 seasonal jobs, with an annual operational expenditure of $110 million and annual production revenue of $180 million. The project will significantly increase the Territory’s horticulture output, and provide significant opportunities in the region for local contractors.

The independent review panel report is not normally released, however in consideration of Territorians’ interest in the project, the independent review panel report used in determining this decision can be viewed here: here

Northern Territory Government

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