Coalition Wins Friends with Mining Policy; Crackdown on Coal Seam Gas Drilling

Article excerpt

Byline: Kate O'Neill kate.oneill@northernstar.com.au

A COALITION policy that tightens controls on mining and gas explor-ation licences has been welcomed on the Northern Rivers, but some say it does not go far enough.

The NSW Opposition has promised to apply a tougher assessment process to mining and coal seam gas extraction if elected in next month's State election, incl-uding a moratorium for all new mine and gas licences for up to a year.

The policy would mean a more cautious approach to granting exploration licences, explicit agriculture impact assessments and more comprehensive monitoring of aquifers.

The current amining rusha has caused controversy across regional NSW, with particular fears about afraccinga a the process of fracturing rock to release trapped gas a and the impact it could have on underground water resources.

Lismore City Council recently voted to back a moratorium on coal seam mining, following exploratory drilling by Arrow Energy at Keerrong, near The Channon.

Arrow has said it might never do serious drilling here, but has set up infrastructure including a weatherproof road, leading residents to speculate the company plans to return.

Keerrong protesters say expansion of the relatively new coal seam gas industry is occurring too rapidly and without safeguards, and no one is really aware of the dangers. Greens candidate for Lismore, Sue Stock, said she was yet to read the detail of the Coalition's policy, but on the face of it saw it as a welcome development.

aI welcome a policy which allows for agricultural impact statements and better assessment of new exp-loration licences with a one-year moratorium. …

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