The Nature Conservation Council of NSW today welcomed reports that the NSW government intends to sign up to national protocols for the assessment of coal seam gas and large coal mines, but warns that the agreement will not deliver real protection for water resources and the environment without strong reforms at state level.
“Federal funding for research and assessment of the impacts of coal seam gas and coal mining is welcome, but it must be accompanied by meaningful improvements in industry regulation by the state government,” CEO Pepe Clarke said.
“Research alone will not protect the environment. Robust strategic planning, rigorous approval processes and strict enforcement of environmental conditions are all needed to control the impacts of massive coal and gas expansion in our state.
“The Prime Minister has made it clear that the agreement does not increase federal regulation of the mining and gas proposals, leaving the states as the primary regulator. 
“With the mining and gas industry refusing to concede that a single inch of our state should be placed off limits, Premier O’Farrell must exercise real leadership by delivering on his election promise to protect sensitive areas of the state from mining and gas. 
“The reward payments from the federal government – $50 million over three years, split between up to five
participating states  – must be invested wisely, to ensure that the funding delivers real improvements in the assessment and regulation of mining and gas proposals.
“Local communities across the country, from Chinchilla to the Hunter Valley, are bearing witness to the failure of state governments to control runaway mining and gas expansion.
“These new arrangements for the regulation of mining and gas must deliver real change on the ground. Failure to do so will have very real political consequences for state and federal governments,” Mr Clarke said.