Gasfield Free NSW

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There is an extraordinary political consensus growing against unsafe CSG in NSW. A Bill has been introduced into the upper house of the NSW Parliament to make the Northern Rivers gasfield free, protect the Pilliga from CSG and create a moratorium on unconventional gas across New South Wales.

One year on from the release of the NSW Chief Scientist's final report, Lock the Gate has produced a report card on the status of NSW Government policy on CSG. Our report card shows that the Government is falling short on the four big issues of concern to communities: water, health, protection of farmland, and landholder and community rights. 

Closer analysis indicates that the Government has failed to deliver on 8 of the 15 recommendations by the Chief Scientist, and only delivered partially on the remaining 7 recommendations.  

We have released this summary report card of NSW Government performance in addressing the four most serious concerns that have been expressed by the community about coal seam gas, and a separate, more detailed analysis of the extent to which the Government is delivering on the Chief Scientist recommendations.

The results indicate that the overall implementation of CSG policy in NSW is falling short of community expectations, and that delivery of the Chief Scientist recommendations has been poor overall.  The NSW Government has cherry-picked recommendations that suited it, and appears to have ignored those that did not.

As a result, there is still extensive community opposition to the industry and the regulatory framework remains fragmented, inadequate and poorly understood.

You can read our full report card here

Snapshot: Report card against community concerns

ISSUE

REVIEW

SCORE

Health

An extensive body of new research from the United States has revealed that there are very serious health concerns with unconventional gas mining, and the Chief Scientist acknowledged that the potential health impacts in NSW were unknown.  Despite the good steps taken to implement a 2km buffer on urban areas, communities are still being exposed to dangerous air pollutants via venting and flaring at Gloucester, Camden and Narrabri, and there is still no plan for understanding and preventing the health impacts of CSG.

1/10

Water

There is still no groundwater mapping of the areas threatened by CSG, and there are no protection zones in place for even our most precious groundwater sources - alluvial aquifers of the Gunnedah Basin or recharge areas of the Great Artesian Basin - or for important drinking water catchments. However, two licences have been bought back over drinking water catchments.

Promises to ban evaporation ponds and require Aquifer Interference Approvals have not been enshrined in legislation, risky irrigation experiments have been approved at Narrabri and moves are afoot to allow aquifer re-injection of wastewater despite the severe and well-documented risks.

3/10

Protection of farmland

Measures to protect Critical Industry Clusters in the Hunter Valley in 2013 were positive, but no other Critical Industry Clusters have been protected.  There are no other legal measures available to protect important farmlands, and the 'Gateway Panel' that was supposed to protect Strategic Agricultural Land has not been effective in protecting anything.  However, several licences covering important farmlands have been bought back.

4/10

Landholder & community rights

Communities are being prevented from challenging the merits of mining and gas projects in court.  There are still no right for landholders to say “no” to CSG, although the NSW Government has negotiated non-binding commitments from two companies not to force access against landholder wishes.

There is no mechanism to respect the decision of over 240 communities around the state who have declared themselves Gasfield Free, and the Northern Rivers is still waiting for regional protection despite 87% of people voting against the industry in polls and all 7 local councils passing resolutions against it.  However, the NSW Government acted to suspend Bentley drilling and has bought back a number of licences of concern to the community, including in the Northern Rivers.

4/10

 

 

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