Six month freeze on CSG exploration licences in NSW
The New South Wales Government is moving to take the heat out of the issue of coal seam gas (CSG) ahead of next year's election, by announcing a six-month freeze on all new exploration licences.
CSG has been a hot political issue in regional areas and there has been mounting pressure from Nationals MPs for more action from the Government.
It is understood it was preparing to make a major announcement in Question Time this afternoon but the Education Minister Adrian Piccoli let the cat out of the bag on ABC Radio in the Riverina this morning, where recent CSG applications have been made.
"There'll be a six month freeze on the consideration of any other applications right across New South Wales," he said.
"People are uncertain about it, the government wants to make sure that whatever kind of mining occurs that it's done properly, the public are protected, taxpayers are protected and most importantly that the environment is protected as well."
He says the government will use the six months to take another look at the application process for CSG licences, to make sure only legitimate and responsible companies can take part.
The Government has repeatedly tweaked its position on CSG over the past three years in an attempt to neutralise the issue, and says it has listened to community concerns.
The freeze comes as the Government announces it is targeting CSG operators who have not met the conditions of their licences or have submitted deficient applications.
It revealed it will refuse five existing applications lodged by Grainger Energy in the Riverina and ask Leichhart Resource to show cause why three licensces near Nowra, Morree and Denham should not be cancelled.
Mr Piccoli says the applicant Grainger Energy has not shown it has enough experience to conduct petroleum exploration.