The Lock the Gate Alliance has said the NSW Government still has a long way to go to protect land and water resources from CSG mining, and that the so-called 'reforms' announced today still fall far short of community expectations.
The Government also still has controversial plans pending to weaken the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 and to introduce a Land Access Code that will facilitate access to farming land for CSG miners.
“The announcements today are mostly smoke and mirrors by the NSW Government - they have gazetted some important agricultural areas as Strategic Agricultural Land, but done absolutely nothing to protect those areas” said Phil Laird, spokesperson for the Lock the Gate Alliance.
“The Government claims that it is striking a 'balanced position' simply don’t ring true, because gas mining giants still have the powers to force themselves onto farmers land.”
This comes as the Rice Industry is waking up to the threat of coal seam gas in the important irrigation areas of the Riverina. Now southern farmers are wondering if anywhere is safe from CSG and the answer appears to be no.
“These moves are about delivering certainty for only one industry – the gas mining industry. Other industries such as agriculture and tourism have largely been hung out to dry.”
“Perhaps the biggest betrayal in this package is the betrayal of farming families - urban areas trigger a 2km buffer but families living in farmhouses in rural NSW will have gas drillers on their doorsteps.
"The health risks of CSG on children are the same no matter where you live - the city or the bush.
Surveys in regional NSW of community’s affected by unconventional gas show 90% of respondents do not want to live in a gasfield. A further 84% of NSW voters say that the landholder should have the right to say no.
“Despite these overwhelming results the NSW Government is ploughing on and has controversial plans to weaken landholder rights even further, amend the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 and introduce a grossly deficient Land Access Code.”
The Alliance has developed a number of important principles that should guide the planning process regarding unconventional gas. All of which appear to have been ignored.
“The NSW state election is now just 15 months away, and candidates around the state can expect to be hearing a lot of noise on this issue over that time period” Mr Laird said.
For Comment: Phil Laird 0428 712622
About: The Lock the Gate Alliance has 170 community groups and thousands of individual members. www.lockthegate.org.au