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NSW Aboriginal Land Council eyes off coal seam gas

AFTER weeks of enquiries and confusion around the status of the Illawarra coal seam gas (CSG) project, opponents say they have finally received confirmation that drilling cannot go ahead in water catchment areas.

Development consent for all CSG wells in the Illawarra – approval to drill and run them – is now invalid, the Department of Planning and Infrastructure have told Stop Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Illawarra

Fifteen wells were approved for development in 2009, a determination modified to include a 16th well in 2011. However, the determination states that drilling and operation of the wells must take place before the expiry of one of two relevant licences, unless the director-general of the planning department determines otherwise. The two relevant licences to drill in the Illawarra expired in February and April this year, and another has lapsed.

Stop CSG Illawarra spokesperson Jess Moore said the expiry marks a serious setback to the local project.

“It puts a freeze on the immediate threat of CSG development to the Nepean and Woronora drinking water catchments,” she said.

“The Apex/Ormil joint venture must now apply for a modification to the project, and the Government will need to grant them both this and a new licence, to get the project up and running again.

“What the Government does now is a huge test. Will they reinstate the project in the face of enormous risk and community opposition?

“The campaign to protect land and water – to put science before development – will continue,” she said.

Meanwhile two new licences have been applied for over Wollongong. Both take in parts of the drinking water catchment, according to Stop CSG Illawarra.

Stop CSG Illawarra says Apex Energy has applied for a Petroleum Exploration Licence, while the NSW Aboriginal Land Council has applied for a Petroleum Special Prospecting Authority, despite strong objections from the Illawarra Aboriginal Land Council.

More: Illawarra Mercury

About Mick Roberts

A newspaper journalist, writer and local historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in the Sydney and Illawarra regions of NSW for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides authoring a number of history books, Mick has owned and operated several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limted), Sydney based, City News, and is now with Torch Publications.

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