Narrabri gas recommendation misrepresents academic review

SYDNEY, July 22 2020 - The academic upon whose research the New South Wales Government recommended the Narrabri Gas Project proceed, has stated that her social impact advice has been misconstrued by the Department of Planning Industry and Environment. 

A submission to the Independent Planning Commission by the Sydney Environment Institute shows that University of Queensland Professor Deana Kemp’s social impact advice to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) has been misinterpreted by the Department as recommending approval of the project, when it does not.  

Senior Research Fellow at the Sydney Environment Institute, Rebecca Lawrence, said “Professor Kemp has expressed significant concerns to myself at the way the Department has misrepresented her advice as an approval” and stressed that Professor Kemp’s advice “in no way constitutes recommending an approval of the project”.

“DPIE’s statements citing Professor Kemp give a clear misrepresentation of Professor Kemp’s advice.

“Professor Kemp’s role was only ever to review the proponent’s social impact assessment. It was never to provide any advice as to the social impact merits of the case. Yet, the Department appears to recommend approval of the project in regard to social impacts based solely on the basis of an ill-informed interpretation of Professor Kemp’s advice. 

“This is a grave error in the assessment process by the Department and we contend that the project must be rejected on social impact grounds alone, for the simple reason that no proper assessment has been undertaken by the Department.“

Co-author of The Sydney Environment Institute’s Submission to the Independent Planning Commission, produced in collaboration with Greenpeace, Dr Madeline Taylor said “As it stands there will be no energy security pay-off from the Narrabri gas project, as a legally binding commitment has not been entered into by Santos to reserve gas for the NSW market.” 

“There is no shortage of gas in Australia and becoming the biggest LNG exporter in the world has actually tripled, not reduced gas prices and neither would Narrabri, with a costly predicted marginal production price of $7.40/GJ.” [1]

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Program Director, Kate Smolski, has also called for the project to be rejected, saying that Australian gas is already languishing in tankers, sitting idle at sea as the world experiences an astonishing oversupply.

“There is no need for new fossil fuels from Narrabri or anywhere else, with people all over the world embracing renewables and batteries because they are cheaper and cleaner,” she said.

“There is already more gas in the pipeline than can be burnt according to global commitments under the Paris Agreement. [2]

“Expanding production and consumption of gas in New South Wales over the next two or more decades is incompatible with the Paris Agreement, the NSW government’s policy framework on climate change, and the NSW Net Zero plan.”




[2] Global gas production plans already in train are set to exceed the global carbon budget for 1.5C by 70% according to the 2019 Production Gap report from the United Nations Environment Program.

Download and read the submission here

The Department’s review of Santos’ plan found that toxic salt produced by the project could exceed 70 tonnes per day, or enough to fill four B-double trucks. Over the course of the project, up to 850,000 tonnes of salt would be produced, or enough to fill a large aircraft hangar. The current plan is to dispose of the salt, including direct dumping into Bohena Creek, which flows into the Murray-Darling Basin system.

(see page 79,

University of Queensland Professor Deana Kemp made the statements contained herein to Senior Research Fellow at the Sydney Environment Institute, Rebecca Lawrence.



Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner, Martin Zavan

0424 295 422

[email protected] 


Sydney Environment Institute

Dr Madeline Taylor 

[email protected]