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NSW Government Chief Scientist CSG response fails farmers and communities

Lock the Gate Alliance has slammed the NSW Berejiklian and Barilaro Government’s response to why it has not implemented the Chief Scientist’s recommendations on coal seam gas.

LTGA NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said the government’s argument was essentially that because only one CSG project was now under assessment - Santos’ Narrabri gasfield - it didn’t need to implement all of the Chief Scientist’s recommendations.

“The Chief Scientist’s recommendations were designed to mitigate the potentially destructive impacts of any CSG project. If the government had done its job, the Independent Planning Commission would not now be expected to make a decision about the Narrabri gasfield on the basis of guess work and blank cheques when it comes to crucial issues like groundwater, salt waste, and fugitive methane," she said.

“The Berejiklian and Barilaro Government’s response also ignores the 56,000 square kilometres of land in the north west that is covered by ‘zombie licences’ - CSG exploration licences that would likely be reactivated should the Santos Narrabri gasfield project go ahead.

“The government has let this threat hang over the farmland and water resources of the region, failed to follow through on its own promises and the recommendations of its Chief Scientist, and is now saying it will wait for the threat to get bigger before acting. It’s disgraceful. 

“The inquiry specifically recommended that triple-bottom-line Strategic Release Framework be applied to the expired zombie coal seam gas licences hanging over North West New South Wales but the Berejiklian and Barilaro Government has weaseled out and the message to North West farmers is that the threat they face isn’t big enough to bother addressing. 

“As it stands, the government has utterly failed to implement the recommendations that were meant to keep NSW residents and water resources safe from CSG - at least nine of the 16 recommendations are either incomplete, partially complete, inadequate, or have been abandoned entirely.

“The government will leave the scientific and regulatory work recommended by the Chief Scientist incomplete until it’s too late and it’s farmers in the North West that will pay the price for that neglect.”

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