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Queensland-Hunter Gas Pipeline ATS

Learn more about the Authority to Survey consultation process for Queensland-Hunter Gas Pipeline.

Welcome to the consultation on Hunter Gas Pipeline’s (HGP), the developer, application for an Authority to Survey (ATS) under the Pipelines Act 1967. The project, named Queensland-Hunter Gas Pipeline, proposes the construction of a new gas pipeline from Narrabri to Newcastle.

UPDATE: While the developer had initially identified 1,551 land parcels in their application to survey for the potential route, as the project progresses, the preliminary pipeline route is being refined. The developer has subsequently withdrawn 379 parcels from the ATS application that no longer fall within the proposed pipeline corridor as of 12 September 2022. The letter of notification can be viewed here

The landowners and residents of the land parcels no longer affected, located mainly along the Rutherford lateral and on Kooragang Island, will be contacted individually by the developer to advise of the alteration. A list of the withdrawn land parcels can also be found here. The ATS application as originally submitted by HGP on the 5 July 2022 can be found here. Maps of the pipeline route including land parcels identified in the ATS application can be found here.

As of 11 August 2022, Santos has acquired HGP. The ATS application for the Queensland-Hunter Gas Pipeline project will be assessed based on the merits presented in the application including the merits of Santos as the owner of HGP. 

Project approval under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 was granted on 11 February 2009. An extension to project approval lapse date was approved on 17 October 2019, with the new lapse date now being 15 October 2024. The project must commence physical construction before that date for the project approval to remain valid. Details of the project approval lapse date extension can be found on the NSW Planning Portal.

Please note that project approval under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 is not managed by the Office of Energy and Climate Change. For queries relating to project approval, please contact the Department of Planning and Environment. 

Pipeline licensing issues, including the ATS are managed by the Office of Energy and Climate Change, who is overseeing this ATS consultation process for the Queensland-Hunter Gas Pipeline.

What is an ATS?

An ATS is an instrument available to pipeline developers, under the Pipelines Act 1967. For the project to remain valid under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the developer must finalise the route alignment of the pipeline prior to construction. An ATS enables a pipeline developer to enter lands to carry out survey activities where mutual agreement to enter lands for survey works cannot be achieved.  An ATS is often sought by pipeline developers in early stages of a project to provide them confidence over the project schedule, whilst it may not be used. 

The Office considers an ATS to be an instrument of last resort. Agreement between the pipeline developer and a landowner or resident is always the preferred outcome even if an ATS has already been granted. Before an ATS can be used, the developer must make reasonable attempts to negotiate access with the landowner or resident. If the developer wishes to use the powers of an ATS, they must provide evidence to the Office that reasonable attempts at negotiations have failed and that entry to lands is necessary for project purposes prior to entry on the land. Use of an ATS also remains bound by strict standard conditions for reasonable notice, security, and due care. A template for the current ATS instrument including the current standard conditions can be found online. 

Consultation process

Should the ATS be granted, there are already strict terms the developer must follow to allow lawful entry under a standard ATS. This consultation process provides the opportunity to propose additional conditions, beyond the existing provisions for notice, security, and due care. The Minister for Energy will review all additional reasonable conditions that are proposed when considering whether to grant the ATS. 

As the opportunity for proposing additional conditions is designed for residents and owners of lands identified in the ATS application, your land parcel must be named for your submission to be considered.

As part of your submission, you will be asked for evidence that you are the owner or resident at the address you specify. Please ensure you have an electronic version of a rates notice, energy bill or similar available to upload. Each landowner/ resident in the proposed route has been issued with a unique ID, valid for one submission only. You will need to enter your unique ID to be able to proceed with the submission. 

NOTE: Your unique ID is found at the top right-hand corner of the letter issued to you by the Office of Energy and Climate Change. 

Do not share your unique ID, as multiple submissions under one ID may not be considered.   

If you are the owner/ resident of multiple land parcels, you will receive a unique ID for each land parcel and will be required to complete multiple submissions. This will allow you to raise conditions specific to each plot of land.

What does an ATS allow a pipeline developer to do on my land?

Once conditions for its use are met, an ATS allows a pipeline developer to enter the nominated lands for works such as:

  • taking soil and vegetation samples for examination and testing:
  • considering technical and safety considerations as part of the investigation into possible pipeline routes, including set up and use of any supporting equipment
  • carrying out surveys that support route selection and engineering, environmental, geotechnical, native title, and heritage considerations for the pipeline.

The manner of survey is at the discretion of the pipeline developer; however, it needs to be related to an outcome necessary for finalising the pipeline route or design. The manner of survey must comply with any other existing local, state, or federal regulations. The information gathered during the surveys will assist in any submission made as part of the pipeline license application.

I am impacted by this ATS application. How can I make a submission on additional conditions?

To make a submission on additional conditions for the Minister for Energy to consider as part of his consideration of HGP’s ATS application please make sure you have read the following in detail. 
Before proceeding, please ensure you have the following to hand: 

  • Unique ID
  • Name and address
  • Proof of ownership/ residency (e.g., Rates notice for owners or utility bill for residents)
  • Lot and DP number 

In the submission form, you will be asked to provide details of any existing standard access conditions on your property and upload copies of biosecurity plans, where applicable. The purpose of providing these documents is so that we can ensure that all reasonable conditions will be considered in the ATS. 

In addition to the above, you will also be asked to propose any reasonable conditions you feel are necessary should surveyors from HGP enter your property using the powers of an ATS. 

While we understand that entry onto your property using the powers of an ATS is not a desirable outcome for any impacted landholders or residents, it is important you take this opportunity to provide your conditions. By clearly articulating your reasonable conditions specific to your property or residence, this will afford you a level of control over how the ATS powers for entry are used. Please ensure that all proposed additional conditions of entry are relevant and justifiable for your situation. 

Please remember that should an ATS be granted, this does not mean a pipeline developer can immediately access properties. They are still required to make reasonable attempts to negotiate access for the purposes of survey. Should reasonably attempts at negotiation fail, only then can a developer enter lands using the ATS powers. 

It is important to understand that approving the ATS does not constitute approval of construction commencing. A pipeline licence must be granted prior to any construction works. The Minister for Energy’s role in this process is to determine whether the ATS is necessary for the developer to gather sufficient detail for finalisation of the pipeline route. As part of the Minister’s assessment, he will consider how survey works can proceed while considering the interests of all parties concerned and minimising impacts to landholders that have not voluntarily agreed access.  

The 8 week consultation for this ATS application closed on Friday 07 October 2022. If you would like to discuss this further please contact the Office of Energy and Climate Change at the details below.

Contact Information

If you require assistance with your submission, please contact us at ATS.consultations@planning.nsw.gov.au. Alternatively, a dedicated phone line is open from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday at 02 4963 8777.

Please note that the ATS consultation email address and phone line are for ATS consultation assistance only. For any queries relating to pipeline licencing outside of the ATS process, please contact the pipeline safety and technical regulator at energy.submissions@planning.nsw.gov.au.