Community Bulletin 40

Issued 21 April 2021

Beetaloo Regional Reference Group – meeting two Communique

Meeting two

Date: Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Attendees: in person and online nominated representatives of: Barkly Regional Council, Northern Land Council, Katherine Town Council, Roper Gulf Regional Council, Territory Natural Resource Management, Sturt Plateau Best Practice Group, NT Farmers Association, Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security (DEPWS) staff, Department of Chief Minister and Cabinet (CM&C) staff.

Apologies: Sunrise Health and Territory Resource Services Association.

Purpose

The Beetaloo Regional Reference Group (BRRG) is a consultative forum for community views regarding, and providing input into, the Strategic Regional Environmental and Baseline Assessment (SREBA) studies within the Beetaloo Region.

Meeting one

On 14 December 2020, an initial BRRG was held via video conference to introduce members, organise administrative matters and review the Terms of Reference.

Presentations from SREBA study teams

  • Terrestrial ecosystems studies
  • Water quality and quantity studies
  • Aquatic ecosystems studies

Discussion on presentations

  • Need for a clear definition that a ‘baseline assessment’ refers to a specific point in time.
  • Baseline report will be made available to stakeholders.
  • A public portal will be made available collating layers of data for use by the community, not solely for gas development purposes but the whole region as it is of interest for economic development.  It will be hosted on the POINT website which was recently established.
  • Spatial layers should be exportable from portal to allow for use by stakeholders.
  • SREBA findings will contribute to Water Allocation Planning.
  • Ensure a planned, coordinated approach to limit duplication of baseline collection and engagement.
  • Previous work undertaken for programs such as Gas Industry Social & Environment Research Alliance (GISERA) and Geological and Bioregional Assessment (GBA) Program are being incorporated where appropriate, with some researchers from these programs also working on specialist SREBA studies.

Progress and updates

  • A SREBA engagement strategy is being developed and a draft will be shared with the BRRG for feedback and advice.
  • Scopes of work for the terrestrial ecosystem and the water quality and quantity studies are in the final drafting phase.
  • Aquatic ecosystem studies scope of works is in development.
  • Methane and greenhouse gas studies are being developed by CSIRO and the scope of works is expected at the end of April.
  • The social, cultural and economic studies scope of works development will recommence as soon as possible.
  • Environmental health has been awarded to Jacobs Engineering Group (partnering with CSIRO) for the development of the scope of works and is due for completion early June.
  • The scopes of work for each domain are to be approved by the Minister.
  • Planning is underway for the biophysical studies to commence early dry season 2021.

Other business

  • Chair invited members to nominate guest speakers to attend the BRRG meetings to aid in sharing and gathering information.
  • Concern raised about the consistency between Commonwealth Government messaging around onshore gas development and Northern Territory Government messaging on environmental protection.
  • NLC has had meetings with DEPWS and CM&C regarding assessments of cultural impacts and the design of cultural assessments in consultation with land councils and Traditional Owners (TOs).
  • Chair asked if there were local stakeholders missing from the group which was followed with a discussion regarding the representation of traditional owners on the BRRG, however the group as a whole concluded that the NLC has the role and responsibility for representing local TOs.
  • NLC advised they are already doing consultations about onshore gas and have information meetings happening. They are happy to assist/include other cultural assessment and data collection groups to ensure a targeted approach is actioned to avoid over consultation and confusion within the community.
  • More public communication is required about potential onshore gas developments in the NT.

View the BRRG meeting two presentation PDF (8.0 MB).