Labor’s Coal and Coal Seam Gas Plan will not go far enough to restrain the serious threats posed by the rapid expansion of coal and coal seam gas mining it has allowed across the state over the past 16 years, according to the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
“The Coal and Seam Gas Plan is too little, too late for the growing number of communities unwilling to risk their health, natural environment, water supplies and food production for dangerous mining projects,” CEO Pepe Clarke said.
“For too long, the Keneally government has held the community in contempt as it allowed coal and coal seam gas exploration to expand swiftly without strong, effective safeguards for our environment and communities.
“Labor’s 10-point plan addresses some concerns such as banning BTEX chemicals but it does not balance mining industry needs with community and environmental protection. The proposal to build gas pipelines on Travelling Stock Routes alone could have a significant adverse impact on native wildlife and their habitat.
“Local residents have been left to lead the way in uncovering problems with coal seam gas exploration or operations and alerting authorities, such as a series of methane leaks at wells near Casino.
“The lack of government oversight of coal seam gas projects has been so great that now Labor is playing catch up with a proposed audit of gas wells and drill sites across NSW.
“NSW must not dig itself deeper into trouble. The coal seam gas audit program must be matched with effective land use planning and regulation that considers environmental, community, water and agricultural values in the assessment process. Our state forests, water supply catchments and productive farmland are among the many areas in NSW are simply too valuable for open cut and long wall mining activities.
“We’re calling on all parties contesting the NSW election to introduce a moratorium on coal seam gas mining so the new government can develop effective environmental safeguards with full community consultation and independent scientific input,” Mr Clarke said.