The state government has announced a review into the royalties it demands from the coal-seam gas (CSG) industry, which currently stands at zero for many projects.
Both the Greens and the Northern Rivers Guardians, despite their staunch opposition to the mining practice, have welcomed the move.
The current remarkably generous regime was put in place by a former Liberal-National state government under Nick Greiner in 1991. It allows all gas miners five royalty-free years, before charging five per cent in the fifth year, rising by one per cent to a maximum of 10 per cent in the tenth year.
CSG leases are expected to operate for less than 10 years and experience shows some last as little as five.
Northern Rivers Guardians president Michael McNamara told ABC radio this morning this amounted ‘not so much to a royalty-free holiday as a royalty-free lifetime’.
NSW Greens environment spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said, ‘It looks like this exemption was written by industry, for industry. There is no reason why NSW taxpayers should subsidise the coal-seam gas industry while it seeks to roll out across farms and sensitive environments in large tracts of the state.
‘The current arrangements are a slap in the face to the NSW community. Coal-seam gas companies like Santos are proposing to put at risk our water, agriculture and the environment, but will not pay one red cent in royalties for the first five years of production.
‘Certainly the gas royalty rate in NSW should at least match Queensland’s ten percent.’