The Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) has decided the Fortune Agribusiness Funds Management Pty Ltd Singleton Horticulture Project requires environmental impact assessment under the Environment Protection Act 2019 at the highest, environmental impact statement (EIS), level.
The NT EPA’s decision was made following consideration of the referral submitted by the proponent, and 98 submissions received during public consultation between 23 November 2022 and 13 February 2023.
NT EPA Chairman, Dr Paul Vogel, said an EIS provides a high level of agency and public scrutiny of the proposal.
Dr Vogel said Terms of Reference for the EIS are being developed and will identify where further information and knowledge is required to inform the NT EPA’s assessment, in addition to the considerable work already undertaken by the proponent.
“Importantly, the EIS will provide several opportunities for community engagement in the assessment of the proposal that will culminate in the NT EPA providing public advice to the Minister for Environment about the environmental acceptability of the proposal, including any conditions that should apply”, Dr Vogel said.
“The EIS will allow the NT EPA to evaluate various potentially significant environmental impacts, including for example, groundwater extraction impacts on cultural values and proposed measures to mitigate those impacts.
“As the EIS process is guided by the Environment Protection Act 2019, with different objects and requirements than the Water Act 1992, the NT EPA’s decision does not reflect a lack of confidence in the groundwater extraction licence that was granted for the proposal in 2021.”
The NT EPA’s statement of reasons for its decision is published on the NT EPA website at Singleton Horticulture Project | NTEPA here.