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Floodgates open to Coal Seam Gas in NSW – Government renews 22 exploration licences

The O’Farrell Government yesterday opened the floodgates to coal seam gas mining in NSW with Minister for Resources Chris Hartcher moving to renew 22 coal seam gas exploration licences including many of the most controversial and hotly contested titles in NSW.

The full list of renewals is available here.

“Barry O’Farrell has let the Energy Minister off the leash and in one fell swoop he has opened the door to coal seam gas drilling across vast areas which include some of our most iconic landscapes,” said Drew Hutton, President of Lock the Gate Alliance.

“This is a dark day for NSW and communities from all around the state have every right to feel they have been deceived by a Government that promised the world and has delivered nothing.

“City and country people alike have been treated with contempt and their concerns about the protection of land and water over-ruled with the renewal of 22 drilling licences covering approximately 5 million hectares of land,” he said.

“The Minister has renewed the Apex Energy licence (PEL 444) in the Sydney drinking water catchment, putting at risk water supplies for 4.2 million people and breaking a cast-iron guarantee made by the Premier before the last election,” said Carmel Flint, campaign co-ordinator with Lock the Gate Alliance.

“The Santos licence in the Pilliga Forest (PEL 238) has been renewed despite the fact that it is still under investigation for a litany of environmental failures including contamination of soils and pollution of water.

“The fertile black soil plains of Bellata, near Moree, are not safe either with PEL 470 renewed despite all 84 landholders in the area joining together and submitting a detailed objection which exposed numerous breaches of conditions and showed these rich vertosol soils were no place for a gas field.

“In the Northern Rivers, the people of this beautiful region who voted 87% ‘NO’ to coal seam gas in a council poll on Sunday, are now faced with renewal of two Metgasco licences (PEL 13 & 16) that threaten long-term sustainable industries like farming and tourism.

“The brave people of Fullerton Cove have not been spared either, with PEL 458 renewed despite several major non-compliances with environmental conditions, a current legal challenge and entrenched opposition from the wider Newcastle area to drilling in their water supply,” she said.

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