23 October, 2015

Coal and Gas Exploration NSW Government 'Strategic Release Framework'

Coal and Gas Exploration
NSW Government 'Strategic Release Framework'
Some of you will be aware that there is a submission period open at the moment on the NSW Government's new "Strategic Release Framework" for new exploration licences for coal and gas.
Submissions are due by 5pm Friday and we'd like to encourage you to use it as an opportunity to tell the Government that New South Wales needs coal and gas no-go zones.
The Government has created this new 'Strategic Release Framework' for new coal and gas exploration licences and have asked for comment on it till 23 October.
Then, last week, they introduced five pieces of new legislation that make substantial changes in part to the release and renewal process for exploration licences without including the process they're asking us to comment on this week.

That is, they say they're introducing a triple bottom line assessment, and including public consultation and land use and other environmental and social issues assessment prior to the release of new areas for exploration for coal and gas, but have failed to include any of that in the changes they're making to the law.

It won't have any statutory power and seems unlikely, on initial reading that the Minister will clearly be able to refuse to grant new exploration licences because of competing land use, environmental constraints, or broader public interest considerations.

The Government has so far squandered the opportunity to deliver the deep reform to the management of coal and gas across the landscape in New South Wales that we need, despite intensifying conflict in the regions being targeted for expanded coal and gas mining.

With this new framework, they have, once again, failed to deliver no go zones to set important parts of the state aside as off-limits to mining.

Can you make a submission to this proposed new framework making clear that New South Wales needs firm no-go zones for coal and gas mining to protect rural industries, water resources, bushland and local communities?
Email your submission to: resources.submissions@industry.nsw.gov.au by 5pm on 23 October
Here are some things you might like to say:
  • I support triple bottom line assessment, consistence in the treatment of coal and gas, and the inclusion of community consultation in the release of new areas for mining exploration, but why has none of this been included in the series of Bills amending the mining and petroleum Acts that were introduced into parliament on 15 October? The triple bottom line assessment must be part of the statutory process, and must clearly outline the environmental and social constraints that are grounds for refusal of mining and petroleum authorities.
     
  • The Government still hasn't made any areas clearly off limits to mining. This is crucial reform, long promised and overdue for delivery. 
     
  • The Strategic Release Framework and the Mining and Petroleum (Onshore) amendment Bills need to build environmental and social constraints into coal and gas mining processes at the earliest phase, prior to exploration licences and leases being issued, to stop years of conflict and agony for rural communities trying to protect water resources, villages, farmland or important bushland from mining.
     
  • The discussion paper released in December mentioned constraints, but this framework is just another layer of gruelling assessment with no certainty and no protections, no statutory basis and no clear public interest test for mining authorities that affect farmland, water, bushland and rural communities.
     
  • The Government must deliver no-go areas for mining in this process and before the end of the year.
     
  • This means creating hard exclusions for coal and gas exploration and mining: within 2km all critical industry clusters and strategic agricultural land, in the special areas of the drinking water catchments for Sydney, the Central Coast and Newcastle, within 2km of all homes and schools, in critically endangered ecological communities, in alluvial aquifers, in recharge areas for the Great Artesian Basin and within 2km of rivers.
     
  • We do not have faith that the Advisory body comprised of executives from Department of Premier and Cabinet, NSW Treasury, the Department of Planning and Environment, and the Division of Resources and Energy will prioritise the protection of NSW's farmland, bushland and water resources without unequivocal hard constraints being imposed.

No comments: