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Seven key tests for NSW coal seam gas reforms

Ahead of the anticipated release of the NSW Government’s response to the Chief Scientist’s review of coal seam gas (CSG) mining, the Lock the Gate Alliance says there are seven key tests that the policy must meet.

Lock the Gate National Coordinator, Phil Laird said, “Communities across regional NSW who are living with the threat of CSG mining want the Government to deliver far-reaching reforms to prevent dangerous CSG projects that threaten important areas and water resources.

“The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that the Government would implement all of the Chief Scientist’s recommendations. That is a welcome move, but as always, the devil will be in the detail.

"In order to assess the new policy, as to whether it delivers on the Chief Scientists reforms and provides protections for affected communities, we will be measuring it against seven simple tests:

  1. Has the horse already bolted?
  2. Will sensitive environments be protected?
  3. Will human health be safeguarded?
  4. Will the rights of landholders and communities be improved?
  5. Will there be a 'world class' regime and an independent regulator with teeth?
  6. Will there be a new era of rigorous monitoring and transparency?
  7. Will the risks lie with taxpayers or CSG companies?

“The first test is the most basic: will these new measures apply to all CSG activities, including projects that are already in the planning system, such as those at Gloucester and Narrabri? The reforms will be dramatically diminished if these current projects are excluded from them and drilling proceeds in these areas regardless of likely damage to water supplies and communities.

 “The other tests are all vital to the future of farming and community well-being in NSW.  It is particularly crucial that important water resources are protected, human health is safeguarded and landholders and communities can determine their own energy future and say 'no' to CSG.

"Out in North West New South Wales, there are communities that are wholly dependent on groundwater for their livelihoods and their lives. The new policy needs to protect water resources like the Great Artesian Basin recharge zone from CSG development.

“The CSG industry has a poor record of community engagement. In the Northern Rivers, where there has been an exhaustive democratic community process that has overwhelmingly rejected this industry, the views of the people must be respected, and the existing licences cancelled.

“When the Chief Scientist’s report was released last month, she told The Land that “You won't build the trust in the community unless the legislative and regulatory system is overhauled, and the appropriate financial arrangements are put in place also.”[1]

“Well, we couldn’t agree more: it’s root and branch reform of mining that’s needed in this state, and we hope the NSW Government has heeded community concerns and will act to deliver the first tranche of genuine reforms with this new CSG policy today" he said.

The complete set of “Seven key tests for coal seam gas policy” is here.


[1] Quoted in Micheal Foley “Reform CSG laws: chief scientist” The Land. 9 October 2014.

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