Lock The Gate have called on gas companies to stop exploring for gas in the Hunter vineyards, and at Fullerton Cove, following the release today of draft new coal seam gas (CSG) exclusion zones in NSW.
The eagerly awaited draft regulations from the NSW Government prohibit coal seam gas activities within 2km of land zoned residential, or within mapped “criticial industry cluster” areas of vineyards or thoroughbred studs.
Lock The Gate's regional coordinator for the Hunter, Steve Phillips, said: “Fullerton Cove itself is not zoned residential, although there 80 families living within two kilometres of Dart's proposed pilot production gas wells. There are residential areas very close by and it remains to be seen how the draft new CSG exclusion zones will affect Dart's pilot gas wells.”
“But what is clear is this – Dart will never get approval for full scale gas production at Fullerton Cove, and they should stop wasting their shareholder's money on exploratory drilling. Commercial CSG production requires hundreds of gas wells, over a wide area, and the presence of residential zoned areas at Fern Bay and other nearby locations will be too restrictive to allow full scale CSG drilling at Fullerton Cove.
“The draft rules would also prohibit CSG drilling in the Broke – Fordwich Wine Region, a mapped critical wine country area, where AGL is exploring for CSG. The draft rules are very clear that mapped critical wine country will be excluded from CSG activities. We call on AGL to stop wasting their shareholder's money exploring for gas in an area where they will never get approval to go into commercial production.
“Sadly, the people of Gloucester will not benefit from the new regulations, which only apply to new development applications. AGL already have approvals in place to drill 110 wells on the edge of the Gloucester township, despite mass opposition from the local community.
“It's clear which way the wind is blowing with CSG,” continued Phillips. “This industry is not wanted by the community, and Governments are responding with ever increasing regulations. The fight is not won yet, but the community is definitely winning. It's time for coal seam gas companies to stop wasting their money, and pull up stumps in the Hunter.”
While the draft new CSG rules are a step forward, and will protect some communities and industries, they are far from adequate, according to Lock The Gate.
“We call on Barry O'Farrell to extend the new exclusion zones to protect the health of all people, from all mining. The new rules should apply to coal mines as well as coal seam gas, and they should apply within 2km of any residential dwelling.”
The draft new CSG regulations can be viewed here: http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/onexhibition#mining_sepp_2013