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NSW government agencies ignore Chief Scientist’s gasfield recommendations

Bibblewindi flare & compression station • Image courtesy Wando Conservation & Cultural Centre

Fossil Fool Bulletin • 10/12/2019

A damning public hearing held last week by the NSW Legislative Council inquiry into the implementation of the Chief Scientist’s recommendations on coal seam gas has revealed the state is unaware and unprepared for the damage of coal seam gas production.

Described as a “train wreck”, the inquiry heard from senior representatives of government agencies, including the EPA and the Industry Division of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Department representatives were unable to answer a series of questions from the NSW Opposition and Independent MLC Justin Field about the implementation of recommendations the Chief Scientist said were necessary to manage the environmental risks of the industry five years ago.

Field told the Northern Daily Leader, “I would say from the evidence we heard, that the government has not fully implemented the recommendations.

“Many of them haven’t implemented fully and others they have walked away from entirely.

“In her report, the Chief Scientist said the recommendations were required before the industry could process safely.

“They’ve failed to deliver and now there are big questions around whether the regulation framework for coal seam gas is sufficient.”

Field said the government had walked away from four of the recommendations, including the suggestion to establish a standing expert advisory body on coal seam gas.

“They’ve walked away from what I see as a key recommendations, with no explanation,” Field said.

Five years on, govt drops the ball

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW Coordinator Georgina Woods said, “Five years on, the NSW Government has completely dropped the ball on implementing their promised world-class regime for coal seam gas, putting farmers and water at risk. 

“The NSW Government is leaving farming communities in the North West of the state exposed to unforeseen and irreversible loss or contamination of water resources and other environmental and health impacts from the CSG industry.

“The agencies that appeared today were unable to answer basic questions about the way coal seam gas is managed in New South Wales. It was very clear that major recommendations made by the Chief Scientist have not been implemented.

“The biggest gaps include failure to provide a three-tiered environmental insurance scheme, failure to establish a standing expert committee, and failure to develop systems that can detect cumulative impacts of the industry on precious water resources.

“There are 12 legacy coal seam gas licences languishing over the farmland, towns, and precious water resources of the drought-stricken North West that have never been through the Government’s new system for assessing areas for gas exploration.

“The hearing demonstrates that New South Wales is unprepared for the damage of coal seam gas five years after the people of the state were promised that damage could be managed. No one even knows what has become of those promises.

“There is still time to stop the Narrabri gas project.”

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