An environmental group has accused Woodside Petroleum of trying to bypass legally required approvals for its proposed A$30 billion ($38.7 billion) gas hub in Western Australia's Kimberley region.
But Woodside says it has fulfilled all its requirements and is working with the state government and the Shire of Broome on the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.
Environs Kimberley says Woodside did not have shire approval for a laydown area with a fuel tank, transportable accommodation, offices, toilets, fences, gates, a vehicle washdown area and drilling.
Director Martin Pritchard said Woodside was originally granted approval from the shire to develop some facilities but has since been working on other facilities and has not gained the appropriate approvals.
"Was Woodside ignorant of the fact that they needed planning approval for the work they did at James Price Point in 2011, or did they decide to do the work and pay for the consequences later?" he said.
Pritchard said Woodside was now applying for retrospective planning approval through the Development Assessment Panel (DAP), rather than the shire, which included only two councillors and three government representatives.
"It looks like Woodside has tried to bypass shire decision-making processes by going to the DAP," he said.
However, a spokeswoman for Woodside said the company had liaised with the shire of Broome and had agreed to submit a consolidated application to the DAP with information about work that had been done and work that was planned.
"The Kimberley Joint Development Assessment Panel is the appropriate forum to consider the application, based on the size and scope of the development and works that are the subject of the planning application," she said.
"Woodside has all of the relevant consents and approvals required for our current programme of geotechnical and environmental studies within the proposed Browse LNG Precinct.
"We have submitted a consolidated planning application for our geotechnical and site activities in 2012 following a request from the shire of Broome."