Social, legal and health issues related to air and water toxic pollution in Australia.


Postby HVPA_research » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:19 am

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*Archived from public media*


Barry O’Farrell MP Premier of NSW Minister for Western Sydney

Tuesday 19 February 2013


NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell today announced a comprehensive package of measures to further strengthen the regulation of the Coal Seam Gas industry in NSW.

“The NSW Government has listened to community concerns about coal seam gas – these new measures build on what are already the toughest CSG controls in the country,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“This package makes suburbs, country towns and other urban areas no go zones for CSG activities in NSW and clearly establishes the Environment Protection Authority as the cop on the beat.

“The EPA will be empowered to revoke licenses from any companies that do not adhere to their license conditions.

“My Government has listened and acted. Local Liberal and Nationals MPs have also made strong representations on behalf of their communities. These actions clearly place public health and safety at the heart of all CSG activities.”

Under the package endorsed by Cabinet:

A two kilometre exclusion zone will be imposed around residential areas to prevent new CSG exploration, assessment and production activities covering both surface and underground works
Exclusion zones will apply to identified critical industry clusters, such as the viticulture and equine industry
The independent Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will be the lead regulator of environmental and health impacts of CSG activities in NSW and be responsible for compliance and enforcement
All exploration, assessment and production titles and activities will be required to hold an Environment Protection Licence
The Chief Scientist and Engineer will conduct an independent review of all CSG activities in NSW, including the impact on water catchments
An Office of Coal Seam Gas Regulation will be established within the Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.

Mr O’Farrell said the establishment of exclusion zones will ensure there is no repeat the former Labor Government’s handing out of exploration licenses in residential areas.

“Families in residential areas should not have to worry about their quality of life being affected by the noise, visual impacts and other effects of coal seam gas mining,” Mr O’Farrell said.

A two kilometre buffer will now be put in place for CSG activities for existing residential areas as well as lands earmarked for future growth such as the North West and South West Growth Centres.

Critical industry clusters identified under the Strategic Regional Land Use Plans, such as horse breeders and wine producers, will also be excluded.

The exclusion zone will affect any CSG activity that has not yet been approved under the EP&A Act or the Petroleum (Onshore) Act.

Mr O’Farrell said currently responsibility for approving and regulating CSG activities are spread across a number of agencies according to the type of activity conducted, leading to confusion and complexity for the community and industry.

“The EPA is a respected and trusted independent watchdog – it will be established as the agency responsible for enforcement and compliance of environmental and related health conditions for CSG,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“The EPA will be empowered to enforce conditions under the relevant environmental and mining laws – the EPA can seek to revoke licenses from any company that has breached its conditions.

“My government re-established the EPA as an independent regulator and it is the appropriate body to play an expanded role in CSG regulation.”

The independent review by the Chief Scientist and Engineer will provide an evidence base to support better understanding of the CSG industry in NSW and identify any gaps in the management of risks arising from CSG activities. The Chief Scientist will also consider appropriate ways to manage the interface with residential properties in non-urban areas. A preliminary report will be delivered to the government in July this year.

“This package will be welcomed by the community and the CSG industry as it increases certainty and significantly streamlines the regulation process,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“We want a sustainable CSG industry in NSW but it must be developed safely and with the appropriate environmental protections in place.

“The NSW community should never forget that it was Labor that handed out CSG exploration licenses with no regulation and scant regard for local residents or the environment.

“Once again this government is working hard to clean up Labor’s mess.”


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