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Government opens door to Illawarra escarpment coal seam gas mining

Illawarra residents made their feeling known on coal seam gas mining during a protest march on Sea Cliff Bridge Coalcliff recently. Photo: Green Left

IN the wake of the NSW Government’s Strategic Regional Land Use Policy, comes an offer to renew 22 of the state’s coal seam gas (CSG) exploration licences, including four in the Illawarra.

The licences cover more than five million hectares in NSW, including in areas of the Illawarra escarpment’s water catchment area. The freeze on fracking was also lifted.

Stop CSG Illawarra spokesperson, Jess Moore said the state government has given the green light to CSG in NSW.

“All exploration licences in the Illawarra have been renewed, including one in the drinking water catchment,” she said.

“Communities have made it clear that science must come before development, and that land and water must be protected. Instead, fracking’s back on and exploration across five million hectares in NSW has been renewed.

“No part of NSW – not the land where food is grown, not our water catchments – is off limits to CSG development.

“(Premier Barry) O’Farrell promised to ban exploration and mining in the drinking water catchment. This was – quite clearly – a lie.

“Dressed up in words like ‘protection’ these changes are nothing short of betrayal. They put land, water and communities at risk.

“CSG mining involves land clearing, gas leaks, contaminated water and industrial development.”

State MP for Heathcote Lee Evans said the NSW Government has introduced stringent controls to address community concerns about environmental standards for coal seam gas exploration and production.

“In Opposition, we committed to reviewing gas well construction and hydraulic fracturing regulations to ensure that rigorous standards are in place following 16 long years of Labor inaction,” Mr Evans said.

“The development and release of these two codes of practice delivers on that election commitment and makes sure licence holders are both aware of and adhering to the high standards expected of them.

“All coal seam gas exploration and production titles will be subject to the new codes of practice, which will also be included as a condition of title.

“Failure to comply with title conditions can result in enforcement action against the title holder, including prosecution and title cancellation.

“The NSW Government will not, under any circumstances, compromise the health and sustainability of our water resources.”

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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