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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

CSG audit ‘a farce’: Greens

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The Greens have joined a chorus of condemnation over the state government’s recently released coal and gas exploration licence audit, calling it a ‘farce’.

Greens MP and NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham told Echonetdaily that it failed to even identify major environmental issues that have already been publicly reported.

‘It appears that not one of the 20 environmental and safety incidents self-reported by Santos at its Pillaga site have made it into the government’s audit report. You would think that even if the government noted the company’s action to self-report and that it would still be included in the official figures,’ Mr Buckingham said.

In a media release issued today, the government described last week’s report as ‘a state-wide audit of all coal and coal seam gas exploration licences’.

In fact, the first phase was a ‘desktop’ audit only. And the report itself admits that out of a total 187 coal exploration licences (ELs) and 49 petroleum (coal-seam gas) exploration licences (PELs), just 20 ELs and 22 PELs were identified and then targeted for Phase 2. Only Phase 2 involved a detailed, so-called independent audit to identify licence-holder compliance with all conditions.

These ‘independent’ audits, including preparation of the audit reports, were carried out by auditors directly engaged by the licence-holders.

The Santos/Eastern Star Pillaga site was not included in the Phase 2 audit, despite Santos having confessed to spills of contaminated groundwater into the Pillaga State Forest last year, at a time when the PEL was held by Eastern Star.

Mr Buckingham went further in his condemnation of the audit, saying the department that issues the licences should not be responsible for auditing licence-holders or identifying what actions should be taken when they are found to have committed breaches.

‘The issue is there is an inherent conflict of interest with Energy and Resources, which is the licensing body, conducting the audits. It has an agenda of seeing these gas and mining projects developed. They should be conducted by the EPA as is the case once developments are up and running,’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘There are no teeth. Imagine if an individual was killing vegetation and polluting creeks. At a local government level they would be subject to very serious fines and potentially prosecution. These companies appear to get away with it with impunity,’ he said.

Yesterday Lock the Gate – Tweed called for suspension of local licence-holder Arrow Energy over its non-compliance with licence conditions at its Northern Rivers exploration sites.

But in the report, under the heading of ‘Action Undertaken by Division of Resources & Energy’ is the ambiguous response ‘corrective action sought from licence-holder’.

There is no suggestion of fines or tougher licence conditions contained in the report.

Echonetdaily twice sought answers to a list of questions from the minister Chris Hartcher yesterday but no response was received by deadline.


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1 COMMENT

  1. The gas has been sold the deal will be done unless people stand up and shout it down.
    This saturday 14th the shouting begins in Lismore at the
    CELEBRATION OF COMMUNITY to launch Keerrong & The Channon as CSG Free!

    Invitation to ALL citizens of roads and valleys around The Channon / Keerrong and supporters from the Northern Rivers.

    Be part of HISTORY. Join us in a CELEBRATION OF COMMUNITY to launch Keerrong & The Channon as CSG Free

    This is the first Aust community to declare itself CSG free by a majority decision of residents- 99%!

    They are from all walks of life sharing a resolve to protect their community, to share their story and to inspire other communities.

    At this historic ceremony, starting at 2 pm:

    • The creeks and roads will be drawn on the oval

    • Residents will stand on their “roads”

    • They will pass the Road Declaration scrolls down each road, like Olympic torches

    • These will be presented to our Mayor Jenny Dowell

    • Afterwards, we’ll all celebrate with a great concert. Top performers

    • Food, cakes and drinks will be sold to raise funds

    VISITORS – please arrive before 2pm to avoid car congestion. Share car rides.

    Important. Bring folding chairs or rug to sit on. Bring Akubra hats if possible in

    support of farmers.

    For more info contact Annie Kia – 66886C260.

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