Although it has failed to buy back Metgasco’s north-coast licences or the massive PEL 445 that covers much of the northern rivers, the NSW Government may be about to issue more CSG licences in our area warns Lock the Gate.
Last week, the government launched a Strategic Release Framework for Coal and Petroleum, which is set to reopen the state to new applications for coal seam gas exploration and ‘harmonise the release processes for coal and gas exploration titles’.
Lock the Gate Alliance says the so-called ‘strategic release framework’ was supposed to ‘build environmental and social constraints into coal and gas mining processes at the earliest phase, prior to exploration licences and leases being issued, to stop the years of conflict and agony rural communities suffer in their efforts to protect water resources, villages, farmland or important bushland from mining projects’.
But the group claims that the government has ‘squibbed on setting hard constraints against coal seam gas anywhere but the Hunter Valley horse breeding and winegrowing lands, and that critical farmland and precious water resources in the rest of the state will now once again be under threat.’
Lock the Gate NSW coordinator, Georgina Woods says that although the government has just spent more than $3 million buying back coal seam gas exploration licences they’re now about to start releasing them again.
‘With no hard constraints preventing licences being handed out in inappropriate areas, like Sydney’s drinking water catchment, the northern rivers, or important farmland, the government could grant new exploration licences over areas where they just spent tax-payers’ money buying back licences. Has the whole exercise been an expensive waste of time?’ Ms Wood asks?
Lock the Gate says it will make a submission strongly pushing for hard upfront constraints on where coal and gas mining should occur, to provide certainty for rural communities and industries.
‘The conflict and decimation being visited on communities like Maules Creek, Bylong, Wybong and Breeza by mining could be prevented with up-front constraints on mining, but this program does not deliver. We detect the sulphurous stench of the coal industry’s interference here,’ Ms Woods says.