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Authority’s new powers could shut down coal say insiders

Glencore coal

New rules might overrule earlier regulatory approvals and force mining companies to produce fewer fossil fuels, industry figures claimed.

Multiple resources advocates recently complained about proposed amendments to the Queensland Environmental Protection and Other Legislation Act that allegedly let the State Department of Environment and Science’s (DES’) director-general retrospectively reverse environmental approvals, licences and permits.

Advocates fear such changes would allow the State Government to force operators into reducing mine activity, especially coal and gas extraction.

“It is frankly outrageous, it would give power to a bureaucrat to unilaterally and retrospectively close businesses – it is sovereign risk of the highest order,” one insider said according to News Limited.

“From an industry perspective a project that has been built and established for decades has got to have a reasonable degree of certainty about the future [but] we do not have that.”

They claim the department’s strategic policy team only showed draft legislation on the condition they sign a confidentiality agreement. However, the department rejects any suggestion it is backdating regulatory changes.

“DES is not considering any amendments to legislation that would apply ­retro­spectively,” a spokesperson said according to the media outlet.

“DES will take into account all stakeholder feedback in finalising any proposed legislative amendments.”

State Environment, Great Barrier Reef, Science and Youth Affairs Minister Meaghan Scanlon also rejected any notion the government has already reached a final decision on those legislative amendments. A ministerial spokesperson claimed confidentiality agreements are necessary due to the “preliminary nature of the draft”.

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