One year after the release of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer’s review of coal seam gas, Lock the Gate Alliance has released a damning report card on the NSW Government’s performance on unconventional gas regulation.
Though positive actions have been taken in buying back large gas exploration licences that threatened farmland and drinking water catchment, Lock the Gate found that more broadly, implementation of CSG policy in NSW is falling short of community expectations, and that delivery of the Chief Scientist recommendations has been poor overall.
Lock the Gate NSW Coordinator Georgina Woods said, “While there has been progress on some aspects of CSG regulation, the big reforms the Chief Scientist recommended have been left in the too-hard basket.
“NSW still doesn’t have a process for deciding where CSG should be allowed and where it shouldn’t, or an expert group to provide wide-ranging advice and comprehensive risk management.
“Farmers are still being told by insurers that they can’t get coverage for any damage CSG companies might do to their properties, and CSG companies are woefully under-insured.
“A Parliamentary Committee recommended in February that no further CSG activities be contemplated till the Chief Scientist’s recommendations are implemented.
“This was followed by news from the Australian Energy Market Operator that there is no gas supply crisis, and in fact, that gas demand in NSW is falling.
“Rather than acting on the advice of the Parliamentary Committee, the NSW Government has instead approved dangerous gas flaring near homes in Gloucester and a risky waste-water irrigation project near Narrabri.
“The NSW Government only scored 1/10 on the health risks of unconventional gas in our report card. This is the biggest regulatory gap and the issue of greatest concern to the community, but there has still been no health study conducted in NSW.
“We had expected more progress from the Government on the major reforms proposed by the Chief Scientist by now. There is no reason why they should be pushing ahead with risky CSG drilling at Gloucester and Narrabri before all recommendations have been fully implemented.
“We urge the NSW Government to support the unconventional gas moratorium Bill that has recently been introduced into the Upper House of the NSW Parliament.
“It’s time for them to step up and protect people, rural industries and the environment, rather than pushing a risky gas industry that threatens them all” she said.