Land values across the NSW north coast and elsewhere will be hit hard if the coal-seam gas (CSG) industry is allowed to develop, a new Productivity Commission report has warned.
The report ‘Examining Barriers to More Efficient Gas Markets’, released yesterday, has been seized on by the NSW Greens who say it reflects the risk that close proximity to CSG exploration and production poses to land, water and public health.
The commission’s report comes in the wake of the state election which saw huge swings against the sitting National Party MPs backing the CSG industry, and likely to give the Greens the seat of Ballina and possibly Lismore (pre-poll and postal vote counting continues in both seats).
The report slams the government’s current compensation regime for CSG, according to Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham, and ‘acknowledged that one area where landholders will be impacted but which is not currently compensated for is the hit to land values that CSG causes’.
Mr Buckingham quoted the section of the report which states:
‘An objective and direct measure of the economic cost of gas activities to the landholder, encompassing the different types of damage, is the decline in the market value of the landholder’s property (land and any improvements). This market value reflects the highest value uses of the land with and without the gas activities.
However, in most jurisdictions the decline in the market value of the landholder’s property is not recognised explicitly in legislation as an overarching principle for setting compensation.’
He said CSG ‘is a risky business, and this latest report backs up concerns across NSW that there will be significant hits to people’s property values if the Baird government green lights toxic gasfields on their farm or in their region’.
‘The people of NSW sent a clear message to the government in the recent NSW election, they do not and will not accept the risks to land, water, climate and communities that coal seam gas poses’, Mr Buckingham said.
The report, he said, had also backed up the conclusions of the recent NSW Parliament inquiry into the supply and cost of gas, ‘acknowledging that the move to export LNG in Queensland is “creating significant disruption for market participants and will lead to material costs for some gas users, including through higher prices”’.
The report also ‘agreed that new gas supplies from the development of coal seam gas in NSW will have no significant impact on the domestic price’ and that there was no assurance that any additional gas would be channelled to domestic users rather than export markets’.
‘Not only is CSG dangerous and unwanted, it is also unnecessary and economically disastrous for Australia,’ Mr Buckingham said.
‘The move to sell our gas as fast as possible to the highest overseas bidder and damn the consequences to domestic industry and consumers is completely irresponsible.
‘Report after report has acknowledged that CSG production in NSW will have no meaningful impact on the domestic price of gas once our market is connected to the international market, and it is past time that the Baird Government ditched this toxic industry,’ he said.
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