Despite our significant win for farmers over land access principles, we will not be resting on our laurels when it comes to advocating for a better regime for the regulation of mining and gas activities in NSW.
Two weeks ago NSW Farmers, along with other landholder representatives, secured land access principles with two of the state’s major CSG companies – AGL and Santos.
We are pleased these companies committed in writing to not force access where a farmer did not want it.
But with this win behind us now, our lobbying efforts will continue to concentrate on fixing the current regulatory regime for CSG. We are advocating for independent and easily accessible data on baseline testing and for ongoing monitoring of soil and water quality so farmers, communities and decision makers are fully informed about the implications of the CSG industry on land and water.
We also want to see the government utilise its power to ensure potentially harmful projects on productive agricultural land are denied approval. As it stands, the government’s independent gateway panel cannot recommend that a project not proceed.
NSW Farmers is to some extent comforted by recent decisions the government has made including the rejection of five CSG applications in the Riverina and a six month freeze on all new CSG exploration licence applications.
But along with more stringent scientific processes, we need a truly binding aquifer interference policy based on rigorous science.
Put it in regulation, give it some teeth. Let’s stop beating around the bush on this issue and start providing adequate scientific backing and balanced regulatory decision making processes.
Fiona Simson, President, NSW Farmers