The Nature Conservation Council of NSW has welcomed the decision by Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to require federal assessment and approval of a proposal by Eastern Star Gas to develop a massive coal seam gas field in the Pilliga Scrub, near Narrabri in northern NSW.
Federal assessment and approval process will also be required for the associated development of a major gas pipeline and an LNG export processing facility at Kooragang Island at Newcastle.
“Eastern Star Gas has put forward a proposal to place 550 gas wells, over 1,000km of local pipelines, and a large gas processing and compression plant in the Pilliga Scrub” said Carmel Flint, spokesperson for the Northern Inland Council for the Environment.
“This is the first time that a major coal seam gas production proposal has targeted bushland in NSW and it will have massive environmental impacts.
“The Pilliga Scrub is a vital recharge area for the Great Artesian Basin and coal seam gas drilling will put those precious water resources at risk” said Warrick Jordan, campaigns manager with The Wilderness Society, Newcastle.
“The Pilliga is also the largest and most intact temperate woodland in eastern Australia, it is a national icon, with outstanding conservation and recreational values. The area proposed for gas development includes an area subject to wilderness assessment.
“Coal seam gas production would clear at least 2,400 hectares of native vegetation and threaten the future of nationally important wildlife such as the Pilliga Mouse and South-eastern Long-eared Bat” said Pepe Clarke, Chief Executive Officer of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW
“The coal seam gas production plan even extends into the Pilliga East State Conservation Area which is a protected area under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.
“A major gas production operation in the Pilliga will severely increase fire risks and real questions should be asked about it's placement in such a fire prone area.
“This latest application represents a massive increase from the proposal lodged last year by Eastern Star Gas with the NSW Government for 60 gas wells, which is still going through the planning process” said Keith Muir, Director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.
“We are calling on both State and Federal governments to reject the application and ensure that the Pilliga Scrub is protected for all to enjoy for untold generations to come” he said.
Mining project still planned despite regulation changes by Nonee Walsh. (07/05/2011, ABC feature)