NSW Chief Scientist acknowledges long, difficult road ahead for CSG

Lock the Gate Alliance has responded to the initial report on CSG by the NSW Chief Scientist, Mary O’Kane, in which she urges great caution with any roll-out of the industry, by calling for the an immediate moratorium on CSG until concerns she raises relating to subsidence and underground water have been fully researched.

Professor O’Kane’s report makes it clear that the State should accept nothing less than world’s best practice if the industry were to go ahead and that this would involve substantial baseline studies and cumulative impacts of multiple developments, and she has also acknowledged “wide-ranging community concerns about CSG”.

Professor O’Kane also highlighted the importance of developing an effective regulatory framework, including adequate resources for further research, monitoring and compliance by the state.

Lock the Gate Alliance president, Drew Hutton, said that while the report by Professor O’Kane confirms the concerns that have been raised by the community, it fell short on recommending rigorous baseline monitoring and a precautionary approach to prevent any damage before CSG mining commences.

“If we allow the O’Farrell government to follow the Queensland example and let the industry start up without all the safeguards Professor O’Kane is recommending, then we will see all the same health and environmental problems as Queensland is beginning to experience,” Mr Hutton said.

Mr Hutton said he was concerned that the report did not address direct impacts on agriculture, and noted it was important that the next report by Professor O’Kane dealt thoroughly with ‘no go’ zones for food-producing lands.

“Ultimately, government policy must acknowledge there are some existing land uses that are incompatible with mining and therefore, coal seam gas must be ruled out of areas like good farm land, settlements and sensitive environments.

“Mines Minister, Chris Hartcher, has made it clear he will try all sorts of backdoor tactics to fast-track mining but he needs to be pulled into line by Premier “O”Farrell.

“Professor O’Kane’s call for caution should be taken seriously by the New South Wales government.”