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Environment Minister agrees: No CSG without NSW Chief Scientist’s recommendations

The QGC/Shell Argyle flare lights up the CSG compression station in south-west Queensland. Image by North West Protection Advocacy

Fossil Fool Bulletin • 10 March 2020

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean has agreed that coal seam gas development in the state should not proceed ahead of implementation of five-year old recommendations from the Chief Scientist.

Speaking in NSW Budget Estimates, Kean said, “The Chief Scientist has done a body of work. They’ve made a number of recommendations to give the community confidence that if coal seam gas drilling were to occur that the appropriate safeguards and protections would be in place for our environment. There were a number of recommendations and my view is that the government should implement all those recommendations before granting the license to allow any drilling for coal seam gas anywhere.”

Two of 16 measures implemented

An Upper House committee recently released a damning report into the implementation of the Chief Scientist’s recommendations on CSG, finding only two of the 16 recommendations had been implemented in full, and eight had not been implemented at all. 

Under questioning, Minister Kean accepted the implementation of the recommendations was not complete. A Santos proposal for an 850 well coal seam gasfield at Narrabri is now being assessed by the NSW Department of Planning and is expected to be referred to the Independent Planning Commission for decision soon.

Kean also affirmed that the state could meet its commitment to supply 70 petajoules of gas without Santos’ deeply flawed proposal.

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “Gas from Narrabri would be expensive, and would threaten the livelihoods of rural communities in the north west.

Call for a halt on Santos assessment

“We’ve called on the NSW Government to halt assessment of Santos’ damaging gasfield following the damning findings of the Upper House inquiry. We hope the government will take the Minister’s precautionary approach and not inflict high-cost, high-risk and uninsurable coal seam gas on the people of North West New South Wales.

“If approved, the Narrabri CSG project would drill 850 gas wells right through a water recharge aquifer of the Great Artesian Basin, putting at risk precious groundwater that many rely on for food and fodder production.

“In light of his comments, we encourage Minister Kean to work with fellow ministers to halt the assessment of Santos’ dangerous Narrabri CSG project and support legislation now in NSW parliament for a moratorium on coal seam gas.”

Independent MP says Narrabri gasfield must not be referred to IPC

Independent NSW MLC Justin Field said, said “It is telling that even the Minister for Environment says that the Narrabri Gas Project cannot go ahead until the Government fills the gaping holes in their Gas Plan. 

“Critical recommendations around assessing cumulative risks, ensuring landholders have access to appropriate insurance against long-term risks and establishing an expert standing advisory body have not been implemented at all. 

“The Planning Minister, Rob Stokes, must not refer the Narrabri Gas Project to the Independent Planning Commission until the Government responds to the Parliamentary Committee’s findings and proves to the community that all the recommendations of the Chief Scientist have been fulfilled. 

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