Carmichael is now a prescribed Critical Infrastructure project in QLD – the first time this has happened in seven years.         Image: Adani Australia

By Reuben Adams

THE Palaszczuk Government will invoke special powers to speed up development of the controversial $21.7 billion Carmichael coal and rail project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

The project’s combined mine, rail, and associated water infrastructure were declared Critical Infrastructure – the first time this has happened in seven years.

When a Prescribed Project is considered to be “critical or essential” for economic, social or environmental reasons to Queensland, the minister may also declare it a Critical Infrastructure project.

The Adani combined project is the only Critical Infrastructure project currently listed on the State Development website.

State Development minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the decision meant less red tape for Adani.

“This step bundles together major elements of the project for the first time – the mine, the 389 kilometre rail line, and the water infrastructure, including a pipeline, pumping stations and a dam upgrade,” Dr Lynham said.

“It makes it more efficient to establish easements for infrastructure like the water pipeline and the rail, and expands the Coordinator-General’s power to ensure timely approvals.”

Dr Lynham said the declaration was based on advice from the Coordinator-General, who continued to meet regularly with Adani to progress the project.

“When this government came to power in early 2015, it is fair to say that there was a long way to go with the approvals that Adani needed before they could start construction,” he said.

“Since then, 22 key Commonwealth, State and local government approvals have been granted for Adani’s mine, rail and port facilities and there have been 29 key milestones reached.

“Adani has now obtained all the necessary primary approvals for its mine, rail and port project – and most importantly, I have granted the mining leases.

“At a state level, the only key approvals remaining are water licenses and Adani is actively working on those with my Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

“I know that regional communities particularly will welcome the advice from Adani that construction of the project is set to begin in 2017.”