Federal Independent MP Tony Windsor’s call for Commonwealth intervention on coal seam gas follows the comprehensive failure of the states to adequately protect Australia’s water supplies, high-value natural areas and communities from the impacts of all forms of mining, according to the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
“The Nature Conservation Council welcomes Federal Independent MP Tony Windsor’s proposal for
regional assessment of the impact of proposed coal seam gas and mining on aquifers,floodplains, native vegetation, farmland and native species,” Chief Executive Officer Pepe Clarke said today.
“Australia is the world’s driest continent and we need firm leadership to ensure the conservation of our precious aquifers, rivers and streams.
“Already in NSW’s north-west, we have seen Shenhua’s proposal for an open cut mine near Gunnedah ‘fast-tracked’ before the completion of the Namoi water study.
“The National Water Commission has sounded the alarm on coal seam gas, estimating that the industry could extract an average 300 gigalitres from groundwater systems every year for the next 25 years1.
“The NSW government should place a moratorium on coal seam gas activities until we have clearer mapping of our groundwater systems, and a process to identify and safeguard against the cumulative impacts of coal seam gas mining on groundwater supplies.
“In addition to our incomplete picture of groundwater resources, our knowledge of native vegetation and habitat for native species is also poor in many areas of the state. We welcome Tony Windsor’s proposed scientific assessment of these vital assets.
“In the lead up to the NSW election, Barry O'Farrell assured us that critical environmental assets would
be protected from the impacts of mining and gas extraction. However, we have yet to see any rigorous scientific assessment of our water supplies and natural assets completed as part of the Government’s Strategic Regional Land Use Plan.
“Up-to-date, robust scientific data on our water supplies and natural assets are an essential first step towards identifying sensitive areas that should be off limits to mining and gas, and provide an opportunity for the Government to keep its promise,” he said.
 National Water Commission submission to NSW Coal Seam Gas Inquiry. http://bit.ly/uF6mHB