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Full of holes: New CSG inquiry must expose NSW Government’s lax and incomplete regulations

A NSW Parliamentary inquiry into the stalled implementation of the Chief Scientist’s recommendations on regulating coal seam gas (CSG) will expose the government’s failures and strengthen calls to stop the proposed gasfield at Narrabri, according to Lock the Gate Alliance. 

The inquiry is being held ahead of the expected referral of the Narrabri gas project to the Independent Planning Commission for determination, but the Alliance says the gasfield would never have been allowed to proceed this far if the Government had followed the recommendations laid down five years ago. 

Mullaley farmer, Margaret Fleck said, “We’re relieved the parliament will examine the Government’s failure to meet the recommendations of the Chief Scientist on CSG. 

“This inquiry is coming in the nick of time given a PR campaign push from Santos to get approval for its proposed Narrabri gasfield that is widely opposed by farmers and people across our region. 

“This damaging high-risk project would never have been allowed to proceed this far if the Government had followed the recommendations laid down by the Chief Scientist five years ago.

“Crucial Chief Scientist recommendations about baseline data, modelling, risk assessments, insurance, transparency and governance have been left to languish while Santos presses ahead with its plans for a huge production gasfield in our region that will remove huge volumes of groundwater beneath a recharge aquifer of the Great Artesian Basin.

“Santos has refused requests by government agencies to calibrate its groundwater model, to conduct worst-case scenario modelling, and to undertake the additional groundwater monitoring requested.

“The Santos gasfield poses long-term risks to our precious groundwater, including the Great Artesian Basin. Permanent protection for the GAB recharge zone should be an absolute no-brainer when so much of our region depends on it for survival.” 

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “Monday this week marked five years since the Chief Scientist made a sweeping set of recommendations for CSG in New South Wales.  

“The Government has completely dropped the ball on implementing those recommendations and the groundwater drought-affected farmers rely on is under real threat if a huge CSG production gasfield at Narrabri is allowed to go ahead.”

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