The NSW Government made a commitment to a Coal Seam Gas (CSG) free Northern Rivers before the last election that included the promise of buying back a number of exploration licenses in the region.
While the government made these commitments in the days leading up the last state election, due to one of the longest and most successful community based social movements that our region has ever seen, they deserved to be congratulated for supporting the community’s wishes. Unfortunately, it appears this win for our region maybe short lived.
The recently released Draft North Coast Plan makes specific mention of the Clarence-Moreton Basin coal seam and the ‘coal seam gas resources that may be able to support the development and growth of new industries’.
The report goes on to promote the government’s NSW Gas Plan, which establishes a ‘clear strategic framework to deliver world’s best-practice standards and regulation for the coal seam gas industry’.
Instead of promoting the ‘potential’ for CSG in our region, the government needs to support the community’s clearly expressed position and declare the northern rivers as a CSG/unconventional gas exclusion zone like it has for other regions.
A little over a year since being returned to government, we now have draconian new ‘anti-protest’ laws and a North Coast Plan talking up the prospect of CSG. Congratulations to Lismore councillor Simon Clough for taking the lead on this issue.
At the next meeting of Ballina Council, I’ll be asking for the councillors’ support in reaffirming our opposition to this industry and to call on the NSW Government to declare our region Gasfield Free. Anything less would be a betrayal of the clearly expressed wishes of our community.
Ballina Shire Cr Jeff Johnson