The Lock the Gate Alliance has welcomed a twelve month extension on the New South Wales Government’s freeze on new Petroleum Exploration Licences and examination of current licences, and is calling for upfront protections for water resources, farmland and bushland to be introduced as part of the process.
The extension on the freeze was announced this morning but will have no effect on two controversial coal seam gas production projects at Narrabri and Gloucester.
Lock the Gate says farming communities in the North West and Gloucester were facing mounting vilification and pressure over coal seam gas mining and blamed for rising gas prices which are entirely the result of the coal seam gas industry itself.
National Coordinator Phil Laird said, “The idea that there is too much control of this unsafe industry in New South Wales is ludicrous. There is currently no protection at all for important water resources or farmland in the North West and Northern Rivers or in Sydney’s drinking water catchment. In Gloucester and Camden, there are coal seam gas wells just a few hundred metres from people’s homes.
“We would like to see the review of petroleum licences extend to identifying no-go areas for mining in precious water resources, important farmland and special bushland. In the meantime of course, no further action should be taken to progress controversial coal seam gas projects in the Pilliga and Gloucester.
“The reckless decision by Queensland and the Commonwealth Governments to allow three huge coal seam gas export projects to be built simultaneously in Queensland has thrown the east coast gas market into some turmoil and sharply driven up the price of gas that households and manufacturers in New South Wales are being forced to pay.
“There is no shortage of gas on the east coast – but there seems to be a desperate shortage of common sense. When our own demand for gas is falling, and the amount of gas we’re producing is rising, it’s absurd to cry hysterically about shortfalls and crises. What we should be doing is taking the opportunity to map and protect the parts of the state that are too precious to risk for these short term resource industries, and put protections in place for the long-term.
“Digging up precious groundwater and spoiling the farmlands that feed this state to cover the mistakes of greedy gas companies that have signed contracts to sell gas they don’t have would be foolhardy in the extreme. New South Wales rural communities won’t stand for it.