UCL Australia


UCL Australia Latest News

Prof Simons appointed the Chair of the Institution of Chemical Engineers Energy Centre

Published: Mar 22, 2015 11:29:56 PM

UCL Australia 2014 Annual Report now released

Published: Feb 19, 2015 4:05:55 AM

The future of UCL Australia

Published: Feb 13, 2015 12:18:15 AM


UCL Australia
Torrens Building
220 Victoria Square
Adelaide, South Australia, 5000

Tel: +61 8 8110 9960
Fax: +61 8 8212 3039

FacebookTwitterLinked In

Research at UCL Australia

UCL School of Energy and Resources

Research in the School of Energy and Resources focuses on both the upstream and downstream development of energy and resources, covering a wide range of disciplines - from engineering and economics to environmental science and law. 

Read More

Mullard Space Science Laboratory

The Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) is a world-leading research organisation delivering a broad science programme that is underpinned by a strong capability in space science instrumentation, space-domain engineering, space medicine, systems engineering and project management.

Read More

International Energy Policy Institute

The International Energy Policy Institute (IEPI) was created to address key policy issues in the mineral, energy and resources industries through intensive and innovative research.

Read More

2014 Annual Report

2014 Annual Report cover

Read about all departmental research in the 2014 Annual Report.

Testing uncharted waters: the precautionary principle and the protection of groundwater in coal seam gas operations in Queensland

James Foo

James Fung Chern Foo, BA LLB

Project submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSc (Energy and Resources), UCL School of Energy and Resources, Australia.


One of the most prominent principles underlying environmental law is the precautionary principle – at its core lies the idea that decision-makers should be taking steps to address the threat of serious and irreversible harm before scientific evidence has been established to prove that the harm will occur. 

My research found the implementation of this important legal principle in the energy and resources industry in Australia produces inconsistent results. Further, in Queensland specifically, its implementation through adaptive management may not necessarily protect Queensland’s groundwater resources.

The application of the precautionary principle is especially aimed at containing the potential impacts of new technologies, as the full impacts on society may not be fully appreciated. Its application to the coal seam gas industry is especially pertinent, given the introduction of relatively new production techniques into new environments. However, there are significant concerns about the uncertainties of coal seam gas production, especially in relation their potential impacts on Queensland’s groundwater resources.