The recent announcement by the NSW Government that they are reviewing the legislation that gives coal seam gas companies a 5 year royalty free period and sees them not paying the full royalty payments until the tenth year of production is cautiously welcomed by Lock the Gate Alliance as a step in the right direction, but long overdue.
Jacinta Green, Vice President of Lock the Gate Alliance says, "The royalty free holiday has always been one of many concerns we have had about the legislation and regulation around this industry. We are pleased that the NSW Government is starting to take our concerns seriously".
"We assume that this means that the NSW Government has finally noticed inconsistencies between the claimed economic benefit by the coal seam gas industry and reality."
"The NSW Government has previously been reluctant to make changes to legislation that apply retrospectively, so we are concerned, that, like all other announcements, to date, by the NSW Government, any changes will apply only to new licences, not existing ones. 90% of the population of NSW, and almost 25% of the land area in NSW already covered by an existing licence.
"To avoid issues of legislation applying retrospectively, the NSW Government could take the option of cancelling breached or expired licences and then reissuing them if deemed appropriate. However the NSW Government has proven reluctant to take these steps in the past.
"In Sydney we have 4 million people covered by PEL463. Not only has the licence expired, but the company has constantly and consistently breached its licence conditions. Rather than cancelling the licence, as is its right, the NSW Government allowed the licence to slip straight into the renewal process, thus avoiding all changes to processes and regulation that they announced. This includes the, often vaunted, increased community consultation. In the licence renewal process, there is no means for any community input."
"Barry O'Farrell and Chris Hartcher should listen to the concerns of thousands of residents, and hundreds of community groups around NSW and declare a moratorium on all coal seam gas activity.
"Lock the Gate Alliance and community groups around NSW delivered a petition of over 20,000 signatures to NSW asking for a Royal Commission and a halt on all coal seam gas activity until the recommendations of that Royal Commission could be implemented. Despite promising to return power the people, O'Farrell could not even find 5 minutes to walk out the front of NSW parliament to receive the petition."