NSW CSG cop-out: research funding cannot replace Chief Scientist’s Expert Panel

Published: August 13, 2015

Lock the Gate Alliance says there are still core recommendations made by the Chief Scientist for the management of coal seam gas in the state yet to be fulfilled, despite ongoing broad political and public support for tighter controls on the industry.

The NSW and Commonwealth Governments have today announced joint funding of $3 million to expand and extend the work of the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance to cover New South Wales impacts of unconventional gas.

NSW Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts has stated that this funding for CSIRO’s gas research body responds to Recommendation 12 of the Chief Scientist’s report into coal seam gas.

Lock the Gate NSW Coordinator, Georgina Woods said, "The Chief Scientist recommended that a Standing Expert Advisory Body be established, but the Government has so far failed to do that. Giving research money to the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance will clearly not meet the need the Chief Scientist identified.

"It’s been nearly a year since the final report from the Chief Scientist was delivered. She said CSG could be managed in New South Wales, but only with the strict recommendations she made. Many of the most important of these are yet to be implemented. We don’t want to see the Government essentially cop-out on a crucial recommendation: that there be a Standing Expert body that advises the Government “on the implications of CSG impacts in NSW for planning where CSG activity is permitted to occur in the State.”

"There is legislation to deliver such a body, and the broader protections being demanded by the public due to be debated in the Upper House of New South Wales parliament this week. 

"It is crunch time for the New South Wales Government. The public has called for stronger protections. The Chief Scientist has recommended stringent new regulatory arrangement. The Premier and Energy Minister should get behind the amendments to the Bill that will be debated in parliament on Thursday and end the vacillation and delay.”

Further comment: Georgina Woods 0437 405 932

Background: The ALP is proposing amendments to the Greens’ Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment (Prohibit Coal Seam Gas) Bill 2015 that would establish the Standing Expert Advisory Body recommended by the Chief Scientist. The Bill is due for debate in the Legislative Council on Thursday and

Background: Chief Scientist’s recommendation

RECOMMENDATION 12: That Government establish a standing expert advisory body on CSG (possibly extended to all the extractive industries). This body should comprise experts from relevant disciplines, particularly ICT and the earth and environmental sciences and engineering, but drawing as needed on expertise from the biological sciences, medicine and the social sciences.

The prime functions of this expert body would be to advise Government:

  • On the overall impact of CSG in NSW through a published Annual Statement which would draw on a detailed analysis of the data held in the Whole-of-Environment Data Repository to assess impacts, particularly cumulative impacts, at project, regional and sedimentary basin scales
  • On processes for characterising and modelling the sedimentary basins of NSW
  • On updating and refining the Risk Management and Prediction Tool
  • On the implications of CSG impacts in NSW for planning where CSG activity is permitted to occur in the State
  • On new science and technology developments relevant to managing CSG and when and whether these developments are sufficiently mature to be incorporated into its legislative and regulatory system
  • On specific research that needs to be commissioned regarding CSG matters
  • On how best to work with research and public sector bodies across Australia and internationally and with the private sector on joint research and harmonised approaches to data collection, modelling and scale issues such as subsidence
  • On whether or not other unconventional gas extraction (shale gas, tight gas) industries should be allowed to proceed in NSW and, if so, under what conditions.



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