A damning public hearing held today by the NSW Legislative Council inquiry into the implementation of the Chief Scientist’s recommendations on coal seam gas has revealed the state is unaware and unprepared for the damage of coal seam gas production, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
The inquiry heard from senior representatives of government agencies, including the EPA and the Industry Division of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
Department representatives were unable to answer a series of questions from the NSW Opposition and Independent MLC Justin Field about the implementation of recommendations the Chief Scientist said were necessary to manage the environmental risks of the industry five years ago.
Lock the Gate Alliance NSW Coordinator Georgina Woods said, “Five years on, the NSW Government has completely dropped the ball on implementing their promised world-class regime for coal seam gas, putting farmers and water at risk.
“The NSW Government is leaving farming communities in the North West of the state exposed to unforeseen and irreversible loss or contamination of water resources and other environmental and health impacts from the CSG industry.
“The agencies that appeared today were unable to answer basic questions about the way coal seam gas is managed in New South Wales. It was very clear that major recommendations made by the Chief Scientist have not been implemented.
“The biggest gaps include failure to provide a three-tiered environmental insurance scheme, failure to establish a standing expert committee, and failure to develop systems that can detect cumulative impacts of the industry on precious water resources.
“There are 12 legacy coal seam gas licences languishing over the farmland, towns, and precious water resources of the drought-stricken North West that have never been through the Government’s new system for assessing areas for gas exploration.
“Today’s hearing demonstrates that New South Wales is unprepared for the damage of coal seam gas five years after the people of the state were promised that damage could be managed. No one even knows what has become of those promises.
“There is still time to stop the Narrabri gas project from puncturing holes in a recharge aquifer of the Great Artesian Basin, one of Western New South Wales’ most precious groundwater resources. There is still time to make this important water recharge area a no-go zone for coal seam gas and safeguard the water resources of North West New South Wales.”