Lock the Gate Alliance says the NSW Government’s Strategic Release Framework for coal and gas exploration, announced today, allows holders of ‘expunged petroleum titles’ to reapply for areas where licences have been bought back or cancelled, including in the northern rivers.
The framework also leaves the state’s groundwater and farmland unprotected.
LTG says that under the framework, parts of the state will be made available for coal and gas exploration and it has been announced that the new framework will immediately be applied to two areas in the state’s far west where explorers have sought access to unconventional gas.
Spokesperson Georgina Woods said, ‘there’s nothing in this framework that will prevent the minister and the cabinet opening up the northern rivers or Sydney’s drinking water catchment to new gas exploration’.
‘The public is still waiting for long-overdue promises to protect farmland, water and communities from coal and unconventional gas mining to be delivered,’ she said.
‘Without those protections in place, this Strategic Release Framework is a major threat to our land and water resources.
‘With a state election coming up in a year and a half, this failure is likely to lead to an electoral backlash from affected communities if it is not quickly addressed’ Ms Woods said.
The framework is partly a response to ICAC and chief scientist recommendations made nearly four years ago and warning that the process for releasing coal exploration licences was ‘conducive to corruption’.
But Lock the Gate says there are important elements of these recommendations unfulfilled.