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January 17, 2022

Dart Energy’s north-coast CSG licence renewed

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An map showing the renewed areas of Dart Energy's PEL 445, with Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Ballina excluded but Lismore clearly included.
An map showing the renewed areas of Dart Energy’s PEL 445, with Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Ballina excluded but Lismore clearly included.

Chris Dobney

The NSW government has announced it has awarded Dart Energy a six-year renewal of its Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL) 445 , which covers a vast swathe of the state’s north coast.

In an announcement to media today, energy minister Anthony Roberts says the company has relinquished some 25 per cent of the previous exploration area, including Byron Bay, Mullumbimby, Ballina and Lennox Head, where there are no known CSG deposits.

Whenever a company renews a CSG exploration licence they are required by law to reduce the exploration area by a quarter.

He also mentioned ‘areas around Lismore’ as being excised from the renewed lease but an examination of the lease map (above) shows the town to be surrounded by the licence, as are Kyogle, Nimbin, The Channon, Coraki, and west of Woodenbong, as well as vast areas of the Richmond, Clarence and Tweed river catchments.

‘The Office of Coal Seam Gas (OCSG) recommended the renewal of PEL 445 for six years based on the company’s financial and technical capacity, good record of environmental management and rehabilitation,’ he told the media.

The renewal has come despite a moratorium on the issuing of new CSG exploration licences and has drawn howls of protest from the Greens and local communities.

Greens, Labor opposed

Shadow north coast minister Walt Secord said the move ‘has given the green light to the expansion of CSG mining across the north coast’.

‘Instead of cancelling the entire licence outright and acting in the best interests of the north coast, the Liberals and Nationals have again put the interests of the CSG industry ahead of the community; they have given Dart another six years to explore on the North Coast,” Mr Secord said.

‘Labor will ban existing and future CSG and unconventional gas mining on the North Coast encompassing the local government areas of Ballina shire, Byron shire, Kyogle shire, Lismore city, Tweed shire, Richmond Valley and Clarence Valley.

‘Today’s renewal of PEL445 demonstrates that a vote for a Nationals candidate or MP in the March election is a vote for the expansion of harmful CSG in the northern rivers,’ Mr Secord said.

‘The National Party today declared the northern rivers a coal seam gas zone, tinkering at the edges to try to get them through the upcoming election,’ said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

‘The Greens believe the northern rivers and NSW should be coal seam gas free and protected by the cancellation of these exploration licences cancelled. Instead the National Party has renewed the licences.

‘Premier Mike Baird has said his government ‘absolutely’ wants coal seam gas, and now they’ve renewed this licence to do just that in the northern rivers,’ he said.

Greens candidate for Lismore Adam Guise described the seat’s National Party incumbent, Thomas George, as ‘a dinosaur, pushing dinosaur policies to dig up fossil fuels all over the northern rivers. He’s yesterday’s man,’ he said.

Greens candidate for Ballina, Tamara Smith said, it was ‘shocking that the Nationals have renewed this coal seam gas exploration licence despite the clear community opposition’.

‘They have changed the boundaries of this exploration licence to try to take the electoral heat out of the issue, but voters will not be fooled. CSG licences still cover the hinterland and our river catchments,’ she said.

Partial relinquishment welcomed

Gasfield Free Northern Rivers has welcomed Dart’s surrender of twenty five per cent of PEL 445, which it says ‘covers the Ballina electorate’.

But it describes the move as, ‘only a small step in protecting our area from the practice of invasive and dangerous unconventional gas extraction’.

‘This is only a part relinquishment and a very large area of PEL445 and the rest of the Northern Rivers remains open to unconventional gas exploration and fracking,’ said Gasfield Free spokesperson Dean Draper

‘It’s crucial our region’s water supplies and our agriculture and tourism industries are protected. Our community is calling for a full cancellation of the entire PEL 445 and all of the petroleum Exploration Licenses in the northern rivers.’

‘We need to have certainty in protection, until all of the licenses are cancelled the future of our regions clean and green image remains at risk.’ he said

‘It seems this announcement by minister Roberts is motivated by the fact that the Ballina electorate is considered a vulnerable seat by the NSW government in the lead-up to the NSW election.

‘However, the impacts of invasive gasfields stretch across electorate boundaries, and our community will not rest until the entire northern rivers receives the protection it deserves.’ Mr Draper said.

Ballina CSG Free spokesperson John Heaton cautiously welcomed the announcement but also remained concerned for the rest of the region.

‘We’re happy to hear the announcement, however we would like to see the entire PEL 445 cancelled and permanent protection given,’ he said.

‘We know that Ballina is not really safe until we get legal protection as a gasfield free region, and therefore CSG will remain a major issue in the Ballina electorate in the lead-up to the election in March,’ Mr Heaton added.

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  1. Another reminder that the Liberal and National Parties fully support CSG and Coal as energy sources and only pay lip service to the massive community opposition to CSG and Fracking in particular. ‘Paying Lip Service’ put another way means they are liers. They lie to the people hoping the people are stupid enough to believe their empty assurances when both Libs and Nats are ‘in bed’ with the CSG industry. Often as shareholders and business associates.
    And how is Dart Energy displaying ‘Financial Capacity and a good environmental record’ according to the NSW Government Office of CSG. A basic Google search brings up lots of reports of a company struggling since being spun off from Arrow Energy (the same company that caused radioactive contamination at Piliga – now owned by Santos).
    Dart was only spun off from Arrow in 2010 when Arrow Energy was bought by Shell. So, it was not part of the company that spilled radioactive waste at Piliga???? Another CON. New Hope Corp owned 16.3% of Dart as of last May and forced a spill of the board in November 2013 because it was dissatisfied with the Group’s performance. New Hope operates a major Coal Mine in SE QLD and the major shareholder is Washington H. Soul Pattinson which has diversified business interests including the Soul Pattison Chemist Brand and are also into manufacture, processing and marketing of seasonings, essences, food colours, perfumes and aromatic chemicals, and the reconstitution of polyethylene film.

    So by supporting them, you are indirectly supporting CSG extraction in NSW. And now the NSW Office of CSG has been created to assist miners to rip off our resources.

  2. This is tragic news and once again the NSW government only has $$$ signs in mind, most of the community is against CSG , they certainly do not listen to what the voters want.

  3. Take a drive from Lismore to Clunes or Lismore to Alstonville and for over 75% of the way you are in a CSG exploration area. What are they thinking? Does anyone think that we would accept those areas with CSG wells?

  4. What a sell out of the National Party and the so called “Liberals” ( who are anything but) As if financial profit can ever replace clean water and air! A huge majority percentage of the people in this area DO NOT want Coal seam mining, but the governmnet totally ignores the wishes of the people. Shame on them! They will be rememebered as the most anti enrionmental and anti humanitarion party ever to govern Australia.

  5. Liberal and nationals only care about dollars and lets not forget who issued all these licenses in the first place both here and in Queensland the good old labor party !!! The greens are the only party with any social and moral integrity ! Don’t want csg simple vote green !

  6. When will they wake up that there is no value above health, and to look after land and water is vital to health. That economy without ecology is the way to disease and disconnect. That to care for country is to Love Life and to love life is to care for country, and that there is a difference between the pulse of life and the noise of a machine. That living beauty sings our hearts to joy and deserves cherishing. (and protecting), and if habits need to change, so be it. New ways.

  7. This would seem to be a good time to remind everyone that it was a “Greens” backed Federal Labor government and a “Greens” backed Queensland government that started this industry in Australia so don’t for a second trust Labor or The Greens on this issue.
    This industry will only be stopped through persistent non-violent protest, the political parties in Australia have all been corrupted by the mining industry, as have the big environment groups, ask yourself when the CSG actually started and when you actually became aware of it and who was running the show and guarding the show during that period. How could this happen? I have been in a CSG Pond, dry because the lining had tears in it, that was built in 2004, Owen One was the well. QGC built it, but Arrow which is closely tied to Dart finally cleaned it up last year after I insisted they do so. The pond had been acting as a very effective animal trap in the decade since its construction, like a modern day tar pit. And all of that happened under which governments? Which parties were overseeing this?
    While the Nats and the Libs and the LNP are no better, speaking as a person who lived among this industry for years, they are no worse if you judge the Greens and Labor on their track record, their actions, rather than their words.

  8. Sadly, I think they will never wake up to that reality. They are sound, sound asleep, even while their actions ensure that no-one else may sleep soundly. Deleting Byron and surrounds, as though nought else matters?! Really??!!

    The powers that be have no senses to guide them, apparently, least of all common sense. As they continue to bulldoze the unconscionable upon us, we must continue to muster numbers sufficient to thwart them. They didn’t get their filthy well in at Bentley, and we must stop them getting their filthy wells in elsewhere, too, by sheer people power. They can’t lock us all up, nor can they ever justify using tax payer’s police power to fight CSG’s ugly greed-based battles when break-ins and ICE-fuelled violence is escalating by the minute. The greatest tragedy is that the CSG issue is removing the government’s “care” from where it legitimately should be directed. That is an absolute disgrace and this government should hang its head in shame.

  9. The Nationals continue to support invasive gasfields in the Northern Rivers. If you are a traditional National Party voter, please put them last in protest for them ignoring the community on this most important issue. They need to change their policy and that won’t happen if they get re-elected. Shame on you Don Page and Thomas George

  10. This link gives details of all the hazardous chemicals and their health impacts used in the fracking process: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2011/s3144681.htm
    It’s no surprise to see Dick Cheney’s Halliburton well represented in the CSG industry (any links to Dart et al?) “The USA 2005 Energy Policy Act gave specific exemption, for fracking, from the underground injection control provisions in the Safe Drinking Water Act.

    In common parlance this is called the ‘Halliburton Loophole’ as Dick Cheney was running Halliburton at the time that they lobbied for the exemption. Later as Vice President, he went on to include it in the energy plan that he produced for the Bush administration.

    Exemptions to the Clean Air Act have also been granted. Environmentalists point out that there are more paid oil and gas industry lobbyists in the USA than there are members of congress.” (http://www.newsnetscotland.scot/index.php/affairs-scotland/6407-unconventional-gas-who-are-dart-energy-and-is-fracking-on-its-way-here)

  11. Don’t put the protest gear away just yet! We can be all ready in a day that’s for sure but I wish they’d take the hint from the ruling majority!


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