Lock the Gate Alliance says the NSW Government is putting the cart before the horse by implementing a compensation regime for the impacts of coal seam gas on landholders before comprehensive regulatory protections are in place and before the Chief Scientists recommendations have been fully implemented.
At the request of the Government, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) today released a new model for setting benchmark compensation rates as a guide for NSW landholders negotiating land access agreements with coal seam gas (CSG) companies. IPART has released their draft report today, and is seeking community feedback on it.
“The NSW Government has talked about needing better protection for landholders and farmers against coal seam gas but it has come up short on action,” said Phil Laird, spokesperson for the Lock the Gate Alliance.
“Compensation benchmarks for farmers and landholders should only be set once the right laws and planning processes are in place that protect water, land and communities from CSG exploration and production.
“Until these proper checks and balances are in place, compensation requirements are unknown and premature discussion of compensation continues the disturbing trend of expansion by the gas industry ahead of appropriate regulation, then trying to fix it up afterward.
“There is no current legislative mechanism to restrain the areas where CSG can occur, even though it was recommended nearly a year ago by the Chief Scientist.
“Instead, the CSG industry can operate in the most sensitive environments - including important aquifer recharge areas, water catchments, geologically risky areas and crucial food and fibre-producing areas.
“On Monday next week, it will be one year since the Chief Scientist delivered her report and still some of the most important recommendations have not been implemented by the Baird Government.
“Since then gas demand has declined in NSW and there is absolutely no reason to rush the development of this risky industry.
“We call on the Government to make public a clear timetable for the full implementation of the Chief Scientist's recommendations, and to support the moratorium Bill currently in parliament to ensure the gas industry does not get ahead of the regulation and do irreversible harm, before the proper controls are in place,” he said.
Draft CSG Landholder benchmark Compensation Framework available here: http://bit.ly/1j4kaH4