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Byron Shire
November 30, 2021

Chief scientist’s report ‘not a green light’ for CSG

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Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham at the Bentley Blockade.
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Chris Dobney

NSW Farmers and the state’s Greens are united on one thing: they are adamant that the chief scientist’s report on coal seam gas, released on Tuesday, is far from a ‘green light’ for CSG, as has been claimed by some industry players.

Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson told ABC radio this morning that the report is ‘largely positive’ but derided the amount of regulation it recommended.

‘If there are rules which are suitable in South Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia, United States, Canada, why do we have something which is over the top?’ he argued.

But the Greens have looked at the report in a different light, saying it was a ‘vindication of community concerns and that the risks … were too great to allow the coal seam gas industry to operate in NSW.’

‘The chief scientist’s report has identified that coal seam gas can present major risks to the environment, even if this risk is characterised as “unintended consequences”,’ said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

‘NSW should ban coal seam gas to mitigate these risks and turn to alternative sources of gas and energy,

‘The risks, the legacy issues, the cumulative impacts, the community division, the impact on the climate, the need for more stringent regulation and monitoring, all these add up and beg the question: do we need a risky coal seam gas industry in NSW?’ he added

‘This report is a red light for the current coal seam gas projects at Narrabri, Gloucester and Camden, and they should be halted and no new projects should be approved until the government has digested and responded to this report with significant legislative and regulatory reform,’ Mr Buckingham said.

Fiona Simson, president of NSW Farmers. Photo supplied
Fiona Simson, president of NSW Farmers. Photo supplied

NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson, while welcoming the report and the recommendations, advised caution against the report ‘being characterised by government and industry as a “green light” for coal seam gas extraction in this state.’

‘This is an ill-informed approach as there are a number of quite strong recommendations, all very necessary,’ she said.

She added that ‘there has been a strong message sent to government and industry here: if they cannot operate in a world’s best practice manner and guarantee the protection of agricultural land and water, then they will continue to have difficulty in their quest to operate in this state.

‘All of the recommendations made in the report need to be supported and implemented without delay, landholders and the wider community will simply not tolerate anything less,’ Ms Simson said.

She added that NSW Farmers were ‘particularly encouraged to see the comments in relation to a “permitted area” approach to CSG extraction. We have always made it clear that we are not against this industry, but there are areas that should be off limits.

‘The overall focus on the need for high quality and transparent data is essential, as is the recommendation that the full cost to government of the regulation and support of the CSG industry should be wholly covered by the fees, levies, royalties that the industry generates,’ Ms Simson said.

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