MIDCOAST Water has expressed disappointment in the haste of the Federal Government's conditional approval of the Gloucester coal seam methane gas project.
General manager Robert Loadsman said the water utility was concerned the conditional approval - issued under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and valid until 2062 - had been granted before a bioregional assessment had been undertaken.
"The Gloucester basin was on the priority list for the development of a bioregional assessment by the newly appointed Commonwealth Independent Expert Scientific Committee convened to review coal seam gas proposals and their potential impact on water resources," Mr Loadsman said.
"It is very disappointing that the federal government has made this decision before these assessments were undertaken."
Bioregional assessments are a scientific analysis of the ecology, hydrology and geology of an area for the purpose of assessing the potential risks to water resources in the area as a result of impacts of coal seam gas or large coal mining development.
The approval, granted to AGL by the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water Population and Communities, is for the construction, operation and decommissioning not more than 110 coal seam gas wells and associated infrastructure including gas and water gathering lines.
The approval also covered a central processing facility, the construction of a transfer line to Hexham and a gas receiving station at Hexham.
There are 36 conditions attached to the approval - they include 12 conditions addressing the protection of listed threatened species and 11 conditions in relation to the protection of water resources.
"We are currently in the process of reviewing all those conditions which relate to the protection of water resources," Mr Loadsman explained.