Many of the NSW Chief Scientist’s recommendations on regulating the CSG industry will not be adopted, according to the government response.
Instead, the NSW Liberal and Nationals government claim the ‘state’s regulatory framework for resource projects and the reforms to date ensure NSW is well positioned to develop a safe and sustainable domestic gas industry’.
Of the 17 recommendations by the NSW Chief Scientist, only two are supported.
They are improving transparency of information, and reviewing all new findings in relation to health impacts, which would be included in any new CSG assessment.
The other recommendations are ‘noted’ or ‘supported in principle’ by the government.
In the reply, the government outlined what regulatory improvements had been made since the issue attracted ‘community concern’ in 2011.
The response concludes by saying that existing gas projects are winding down, and the only one ‘in the pipeline’ is the Santos Narrabri gasfield project, which is awaiting determination by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC).
No new areas for CSG exploration have been released, says the government report, ‘And if [that did happen] in the future, it would take considerable time for any potential production projects to emerge’.
As such, the report argues that the Chief Scientist’s recommendations have been achieved.
Yet there was no mention of the gas expansion expected to occur under an agreement struck between the federal and NSW government. SMH (Nine) and other media reported in January that ‘Nearly $3 billion will be pumped into NSW to increase gas supplies’.
Local Nats MLC supports his govt
When asked whether he supported his govenrment’s response, local Nationals MLC, Ben Franklin repeated his government’s justifications for not implementing all the recommendations, while accusing the committee oversight body of ignoring ‘robust CSG-related regulatory controls delivered by the NSW government’.
He also declined to comment on the planned gas expansion by his government and federal counterparts, and said the NSW CSG industry ‘will remain relatively small for the foreseeable future, even if the Narrabri project was approved’.
Mr Franklin told The Echo, ‘Contrary to the assertions made, the NSW government response highlights all of these key factors and maintains the government’s position that it has delivered responses to 15 of the Chief Scientist’s 16 recommendations’.
Govt failure: LTG
Meanwhile Lock the Gate Alliance said the NSW Berejiklian and Barilaro government ‘has utterly failed to implement the recommendations that were meant to keep NSW residents and water resources safe from CSG – at least nine of the 16 recommendations are either incomplete, partially complete, inadequate, or have been abandoned entirely’.
LTGA NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said, ‘The response also ignores the 56,000 square kilometres of land in the northwest that is covered by “zombie licences” – CSG exploration licences that would likely be reactivated should the Santos Narrabri gasfield project go ahead.
‘The inquiry specifically recommended that triple-bottom-line Strategic Release Framework be applied to the expired zombie coal seam gas licences hanging over North West NSW, but the Berejiklian and Barilaro government has weaselled out and the message to North West farmers is that the threat they face isn’t big enough to bother addressing’.