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NSW finalises CSG safeguards

World Coal,

The government of New South Wales has finalised landmark coal seam gas (CSG) reforms that will safeguard approximately 5.3 million hectares of the state’s homes and farmland.

Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Brad Hazzard and Minister for Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts made the announcement, explaining that the reforms struck the right balance for communities and industry.

Stoner commented: ““Today marks a significant milestone in this government’s commitment to balance the energy needs of the state and the need to support our vital agricultural industry.

“Coal seam gas exclusion zones are now in force for an estimated 95% of dwellings covered by current petroleum licences and tough regulations are also now in place for NSW’s most valuable agricultural land.

“We’ve consulted with the community to identify millions of hectares of biophysical strategic agricultural land and critical industry clusters (CIC) and today we have acted to ensure that this important land is formally recognised and safeguarded.

“The NSW government has delivered the strictest regulations around CSG activity in the country, which is a far cry from Labor who permitted CSG activity in residential areas and gave no special consideration to the impact of mining or CSG on the state’s most valuable agricultural resources.”

The key reforms include:

  • Applying CSG exclusion zones across the state to cover CICs, residential zones, an additional seven rural villages and future growth areas in 55 council areas. CSG exclusion zones now apply to 2.7 million hectares in NSW. Some land that is in a CSG exclusion zone will also be subject to the Gateway process for other state significant mining activities.
  • Safeguarding approximately 2.8 million hectares of the state’s most valuable farming land by ensuring that the impacts on land and water or resource proposals are considered up front through the independent scientific Gateway process. These safeguards were initially applied in the Upper Hunger and New England North West regions (October 2013) and have now been extended statewide.
  • Implementing CICs for 60 000 hectares of viticulture land and 254 000 hectares of equine land in the Upper Hunter. No new CSG activity is allowed in any CIC. Mining proposals in CICs must go through the independent assessment of the Gateway process.

First stage of reform
Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, Brad Hazzard, explained that the NSW government implemented the first stage of reform in October last year, including:

  • Establishing CSG exclusion zones with a two km buffer across existing residential zones and the North West and South West Growth Centres of Sydney, where new CSG activity is prohibited.
  • Safeguarding approximately 1.74 million hectares of strategic agricultural land in the Upper Hunter and New England North West regions through the Gateway process.
  • Appointing the Gateway Panel to provide an independent, scientific assessment of major resources projects on strategic agricultural land.

Hazzard added: “We worked with the community to achieve these important reforms, which gets the balance right for the people of NSW.

“Industry can plan ahead with certainty, the rules are clear, and communities can rest easy in the knowledge that NSW has the toughest CSG controls in the country.”

‘Clarity, consistency and confidence’
Minister for Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, said the reforms would ensure agriculture; sustainable resource development and communities could co-exist. “These comprehensive reforms provide clarity, consistency and confidence for the community and a variety of industries across NSW”, he concluded.

Adapted from press release by Katie Woodward

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