Dismay at Coal Seam Gas permits

Article image - Dismay at Coal Seam Gas permits

Moree Plains Shire Council’s Mayor Councillor Katrina Humphries has expressed her dismay that the Office of Coal Seam Gas (CSG) could issue permits for CSG exploration without consultation with Council, neighbouring properties, the wider community, and even land owners.

“This is a substantial reduction in the regulatory oversight of CSG exploration and of particular concern is the removal of community consultation requirements,” Mayor Humphries said.

Under new regulations, the Office of CSG will be able to issue exploration permits which will be processed under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, a process which is generally used for low-impact infrastructure projects, such as road and bridge construction.

“It is not appropriate for a single regulatory authority to be judge and jury on matters that can impact so profoundly on our way of life,” said the Mayor.

“The NSW State Government has broken a fundamental promise to communities like ours by further eroding any influence local communities have over major developments.

“The appointment of bureaucrats rather than a Minister to oversee this process is completely lacking in accountability.

“These bureaucrats are not subject to the public opinion test of an election and are therefore not held accountable for their decisions.”

A new Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy has been drafted for mining development.

The draft policy states that development that provides significant public benefit should proceed despite non-compliances with the assessment criteria on issues such as elevated noise, dust or environmental impacts.

“The NSW State Government uses the so called ‘significant public benefit’ of these mining developments as if it’s a ‘get out of jail free card’ allowing them to approve mining anywhere they like.

“Local communities should be deciding on the benefits of mining and we say; we won’t let the short-term benefits of CSG jeopardise the long-term future of our agriculture.”

Moree Plains Shire Council has an ongoing moratorium on all CSG operations