Page MP Janelle Saffin has welcomed news that the Northern Rivers is to be part of an independent water study, funded by the federal government, to provide scientific information about how local aquifer systems are likely to be affected by CSG drilling.
The funding is part of an agreement struck with the government by the independent MP Tony Windsor.
Ms Saffin says there was at first some confusion about whether the area would be covered because it came in under the Queensland announcement. But she was able to confirm today that the Casino-Lismore-Kyogle area will be included as well as the Clarence valley.
She says the bioregional assessment process is a federal-state partnership, with NSW having voluntarily entered into a partnership with the federal government.
‘We will have a clear baseline of what our water is, the state of it, and if there is mining what impact it would have,’ she told ABC’s Rural Report this morning.
‘One of my concerns, among quite a few, with coal-seam gas [is that] it does extract a lot of water and then there is the issue of what quality of water goes into the environment.’
She says the information will be made public and the state government, as part of the partnership, has agreed that any approval will take into account the results of the assessment.
‘It is not retrospective in that it will change the existing approval but once that report’s out there, if there was something happening that could be damaging the companies would have to look at it and take it into account.’
Ms Saffin said that there is a sense of urgency about getting the study done but could not commit to a timeframe.