Page 41 - AGL Sustainability Report 2011

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Sustainability Performance Report 2011 39
Community engagement
AGL is committed to ensuring that coal seam gas
exploration and production activities minimise
impacts on the environment and the community,
and can comfortably co-exist with other land uses,
including residential, agriculture, tourism, viticulture
and other industries. AGL recognises the importance of
co-operative engagement with community stakeholders.
To engage the community and effectively respond to community
concerns, AGL consults with landowners, neighbours, residents,
local councils and relevant government agencies during all stages
of the project life-cycle.
Currently, only AGL’s Camden Gas Project in New South Wales is
in commercial production stage. AGL also operates coal seam gas
exploration projects in Gloucester, Galilee and the Hunter Valley.
AGL also operates conventional oil and gas assets in Silver Springs,
and has two gas storage projects in development: the Silver Springs
Underground Gas Storage Project, and the Newcastle Gas Storage
Facility. In the Cooper Basin AGL is the operator for a large oil
exploration permit, and holds geothermal permits in Victoria, New
South Wales and Queensland.
AGL acknowledges the significant levels of concern in rural and
regional communities surrounding the Australian coal seam gas
industry, particularly in relation to issues such as land access and
water resources. Over the past 12 months, misunderstanding about
the nature of the Australian coal seam gas industry has led to wider
unease in local communities. AGL believes that greater levels of
community engagement can effectively address these concerns.
AGL respects the diverse range of views held by communities
at each of its coal seam gas project sites. A critical part of AGL’s
exploration project development involves understanding community
viewpoints and the concern which may understandably be present
in a community which has not previously had exposure to coal seam
gas exploration work.
AGL engages with local communities, providing them with a high
level of information in relation to proposed and operating projects.
AGL seeks to better understand the views of communities and
ensures interested community members have access to relevant
information through regular community meetings, drop-in sessions,
field days, site visits, newsletters, newspaper advertising, email
updates, Community Consultative Committees (CCC), and
one-on-one conversations with stakeholders. Dedicated sections
on AGL’s website provide project information including meeting
minutes and other relevant documentation such as Environmental
Assessment reports.
The Camden, Gloucester and Hunter projects have active
Community Consultation Committees, each chaired by an
independent chairperson. The three CCCs include local council
appointed representatives, local residents, local environment
groups and AGL representatives. The CCCs provide a forum for
community involvement, where members can ask questions and
make suggestions which AGL responds to and adopts where
appropriate. The CCCs participate in consultation processes for
proposed exploration and development activities and also oversee
the environmental performance of those activities once in operation.
AGL has established dedicated groundwater and surface
water monitoring networks across its Gloucester, Hunter and
Galilee exploration areas, and in the vicinity of its proposed
natural gas storage facility at Tomago. Refer to
page 82
further information.
Community engagement plans are in place and active for each of
AGL’s 10 Upstream Gas projects. The community engagement
plans outline the key stakeholder groups that AGL will engage with
during project development and operation, and the mechanisms for
engagement. AGL will continue to work to enhance its community
engagement on each of its coal seam gas projects.
During FY2011, AGL made a public submission to the NSW
Government’s Coal and Gas Strategy. In the submission AGL
advocated for greater community consultation requirements,
stronger water management regulation and a code of conduct to
set minimum industry standards for projects in New South Wales.
Camden Gas Project
The Camden Gas Project in the Macarthur region of
New South Wales consists of low-pressure underground gas
gathering lines and the Rosalind Park Gas Plant. As at end FY2011
there were 142 wells, of which 80 were operational and producing
gas. During FY2011 the Spring Farm and Menangle Park expansion
at the Camden project was progressively implemented.
AGL prepared and submitted an Environmental Assessment and
a Development Application for the next phase of the Camden
Gas Project, The Northern Expansion, to the NSW Department of
Planning which was placed on public exhibition from October to
December 2010. Community consultation regarding the proposed
expansion included briefings for state and local government
agencies, landowners and stakeholders through a program of
meetings and workshops. Additionally, site tours of the existing
Camden Gas Project have been conducted frequently for
community members, and all key project stakeholders.
The Camden CCC met on five occasions during FY2011. During
the financial year a community representative for the proposed
Northern Expansion of the Camden Gas Project attended the CCC.
Issues raised by the Camden CCC during FY2011 included:
>> chemicals/additives used in coal seam fracture stimulation
>> risks associated with coal seam fracture stimulation process
>> ground and surface water impacts
>> appropriate consultation around Aboriginal artefacts
and sacred sites
>> landholder consultation and compensation processes
>> noise and light limits and monitoring requirements
>> project development
>> environmental management and reporting.
Other key community engagement initiatives during FY2011
include AGL’s participation in the Camden Show, which included
an information tent and sponsorship. AGL also participated in
community forums on coal seam gas, including a NSW Farmers’
Federation forum and a coal seam gas forum organised by state
MPs and the local community group, Scenic Hills Association.