Lock the Gate vindicated by Senate inquiry: time for a royal commission

Published: November 30, 2011

Today's release of the Senate MDBC committee into coal seam gas vindicates the stance taken by the Lock the Gate Alliance over the past twelve months.

The report calls for such measures as a moratorium on all further approvals of CSG projects in the Murray Darling Basin until all necessary scientific studies have been completed, although it does not call for a moratorium on all projects as the Alliance has demanded.

Lock the Gate Alliance president, Drew Hutton, said he was particularly pleased the committee pointed to the inconsistency between 'adaptive management', as implemented by the Queensland government, and the precautionary principle.

"This inconsistency has led to one of the most ludicrous situations faced by any development projects in this country's history as governments have given coal seam gas companies approvals without full knowledge of impacts and how to control them and then introduced a system of changing the conditions of their approvals if the companies are met by circumstances they didn't predict.

"This has led some critics to call adaptive management the 'suck-it-and-see' approach.

"All of this begs the question: why did governments abandon the precautionary principle in approving the big projects in Queensland, as well as some in New South Wales, if the practice of adaptive management is not consistent with that principle?

"The approvals process has been widely criticised by many experts, the environment movement and farmers' organisations, leaving a very difficult question that only a royal commission can answer.

Mr Hutton said it was now up to state and federal governments to address the recommendations from the report and to add some new ones including coal seam gas in areas outside the MDB, the life-cycle emissions from CSG/LNG, the social impacts of coal seam gas and the imbalance between the rights of farmers and mining companies in relation to land access.


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