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Minister Roberts ‘Use it or lose it’ plan for CSG risks further legal mess

Lock the Gate Alliance has warned that Minister Anthony Robert’s ‘Higher standards, Action 8 of the NSW Gas Plan’ announcement has failed to ensure the public interest is protected and has questioned why the Government is releasing a ‘use it or lose it’ policy, when they have still not finished implementing the Chief Scientist’s recommendations for proper regulation of the industry.

“It’s not clear why the Government is pushing ahead with the expansion of CSG across NSW prior to the implementation of the Chief Scientists Recommendations, when they clearly said that they accept all of them. Do they want to wait until it's too late to protect people and water, and get themselves in more sticky compensation arguments with industry?” said Lock the Gate spokesperson Phil Laird.

“The Government has failed to address key recommendations concerning geological and land use mapping, revamping of the legislation and regulatory frameworks, environmental bonds and insurance requirements the Chief Scientist recommended, and is now pressing ahead with a “use it or lose it” enforcement approach, trying to hasten gas development when the core policy settings are still in development.

“The Chief Scientist said that the CSG industry needs to be managed within “carefully designated areas appropriate in geological and land use terms for CSG extraction” we still haven’t seen that map, but the Government is pushing the industry to explore everywhere – it just doesn’t make sense.

“Until these recommendations are implemented there should be a halt on any CSG activity including the creation, renewal or transfer of any PELs  within the state: there was clear political momentum for such a pause ahead of the election, and there’s still a need for it, given how many gaps there still are in the Government’s policy response.

“The Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has said that there is no “Gas Crisis” and there is no need for the government to rush development of a risky industry in the face of strong community resistance.

“Pushing a “use it or lose it” policy without even a timetable to implement the key gaps in regulation will alarm the community on the Northern Rivers, who are still waiting for the government to fix the law so that the licences over their region can be cancelled in response to overwhelming public demand for that.”

“We need to see the Baird Government implementing reforms that will protect the community like, no-go zones, health impact assessments and the other recommendations made by the Chief Scientist. Until this is done the community and landholders will continue to oppose CSG, and the Government risks tangling itself in more and more thorny legal webs,” said Mr Laird.

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